- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday issued a thinly veiled warning to Russia and China putting both countries on notice that it will suffer the consequences if they continue to purchase Iranian oil after U.S. economic sanctions on such exports snap back this week.

Washington’s top diplomat refused to comment on what specific actions the Trump administration may take against Moscow and Beijing, should both countries decide to continue to do business with Tehran.

“Watch what we do” on China and Russia, Mr. Pompeo said during an interview on Fox News Sunday. “Watch the Iranians. That is who really understands the actions we are taking,” he added. His comments come a day after Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would continue to buy Iranian oil, even after U.S. sanctions go back into place on Monday.

“We believe we should look for mechanisms that would allow us to continue developing cooperation with our partners, with Iran,” Mr. Novak said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We already live in the condition of sanctions. We do not recognize the sanctions introduced unilaterally without the United Nations, we consider those methods illegal per se,” he said.

The Trump administration has worked to crush Tehran’s oil exports to zero since May, when Mr. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the multilateral deal endorsed by the Obama administration that eased global sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s suspect nuclear programs. The move incensed U.S. allies in western Europe, who had begun to make significant investments in Iran, as a result of the Obama-era nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPoA.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, along with German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström and Danish Foreign Affairs Ministe Anders Samuelsen held a conference call with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Saturday, to discuss the blowback to the European Union as a result of the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

“[Ms]. Mogherini and the European ministers once again reiterated their commitment to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and emphasized the efforts to maintain financial channels with Tehran and the continuation of Iran’s oil and gas exports,” according to reports by Iranian state-run news outlet IRNA.

Aside from economic opportunities, Trump White House critics claim Washington’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal and the renewal of sanctions would reignite Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

On Sunday, Mr. Pompeo affirmed the international community’s backing of Mr. Trump’s efforts against Iran. “The whole world understands these sanctions are real,” he said during an interview of CBS’s Face the Nation.

When asked whether the administration’s efforts would push Iran closer to a nuclear bomb, he replied: “We are confident that will not happen.”


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