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Pompeo: Length of Sanctions ‘Depends Solely’ on Iran’s Leaders

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C., March 15, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the length of new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry will depend “solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders.”

“The goal remains simple: to deprive the outlaw regime of the funds it has used to destabilize the Middle East for four decades and incentivize Iran to behave like a normal country,” Pompeo said at the State Department. He added that the sanctions will divert “well north of $10 billion” away from the Iranian regime.

Pompeo also announced an end to the temporary exemptions eight countries had been granted that allowed them to continue importing Iranian oil and gas.

“We’ll no longer grant any exemptions,” Pompeo said. “We are going to zero across the board. We’ll continue to enforce sanctions and monitor compliance and any nation or entity interacting with Iran should do its diligence and err on the side of caution; the risks are simply not going to be worth the benefits.”

“How long we’ll remain there at zero depends solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders,” the secretary of state said.

The Trump administration pulled out of the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal in May and reimposed the rest of the sanctions lifted under the agreement in November.

“These demands are not just coming from the United States government and many of our allies and partners, they are similar to what we hear from the Iranian people themselves,” Pompeo said. “I want the Iranian people to know we are listening to them and stand with them. We will not appease their oppressors, as the last administration did. Our hopes are for a better life for them, and all people afflicted by the regime’s violence and destruction.”

Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin have previously said that the sanctions will not be lifted until Iran ends its nuclear program entirely, pulls its forces from Syria, and ends its sponsorship of terrorism.

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