Trump ties Pompeo’s rise to stance on Iran nuclear deal

by WorldTribune Staff, March 14, 2018

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is an Iran hawk who, as a congressman, opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump has called it “the worst deal ever” and cited it on March 13 in explaining why he fired Tillerson.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo with President Donald Trump. / AP

“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK,” Trump said. “I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently.”

“With Mike … we have a very similar thought process,” Trump added.

“Some said Washington may take a harder line under Pompeo and the Europeans may be under more pressure to offer concessions, while others suggested his views on the deal have evolved and he may be better placed to influence Trump to keep it,” Reuters said in a March 13 report.

U.S., British, French and German officials are scheduled to discuss the Iran deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in Berlin on March 15.

“Any officials negotiating with the Europeans right now will get a much more aggressive set of requirements from Pompeo,” said Richard Nephew, a former White House and State Department official who worked on Iran during the Obama administration.

“The odds of them coming up with a thoughtful compromise by May just got a lot longer,” he added.

A European diplomat told Reuters: “If Pompeo is that hawkish, then in reality all it is is the affirmation of Trump’s policies. It’s Trump’s line. Hopefully he’ll have the mandate that Tillerson didn’t have.”

As the Obama administration was engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iran in 2014, Pompeo, then a Republican congressman from Kansas, called for the U.S. and its allies to conduct airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it would take “under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity.”

“This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces,” Pompeo said.

Former diplomat Ali Khorram, in a column in the Arman newspaper, described Pompeo as “cowboyish in character and eager to start a war similar to the war with Iraq. The hawks overcame the doves in the American administration.”

On Jan. 12, Trump delivered an ultimatum to the UK, France and Germany, saying they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran.

U.S. sanctions on Iran will resume unless Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.

Trump outlined three defects he sees in the deal: its failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program; the terms under which international inspectors can visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites; and “sunset” clauses under which limits on the Iranian nuclear program start to expire after 10 years. He wants all three strengthened if the United States is to stay in the deal.

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