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Keep up the pressure

A standing ovation must be extended to the United States for its continued tough stance against Iran: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that the US would, as of early May, stop issuing waivers to the eight countries that are still trading oil with Iran.

“We are going to zero,” Pompeo said at a news conference on Monday, referring to the amount of Iran’s oil exports that the US would tolerate. “How long we remain at zero depends solely on Iran’s senior leaders. We’ve made our demands very clear to the ayatollah and his cronies: end your pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop testing and proliferating ballistic missiles, [and] stop sponsoring and committing terrorism.”

This is a continued strong move to turn back the catastrophic nuclear deal engineered by the last US administration, a deal that empowered Iran and allowed it to start gobbling up nations.

The new nuclear deal that the United States is forging dovetails with Israel’s interests: stop Iran before it is too late. And the best way to do that short of a nuclear war is an economic war. What the Washington seeks is an agreement that covers Iran’s nuclear program, its missile program, its regional aggression and its arbitrary detention of foreign nationals, according to US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook.

Hook clarified on Monday just how serious the US is on taking this action, and what the cost will be to the world: “You can either work with the United States, or you can work with Iran, but you can’t do both,” Hook told the Saudi-owned English-language news channel Al Arabiya.

Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already said that “The enemy has waged economic war on us,” and that his country will defeat the United States in that war. Now the nations of the world need to take a stand. The line in the sand has been drawn, and all countries must decide: they can either do business with an $18 trillion economy, or they can do business with an $800b. one. But they can’t do both. And they must weigh whether the costs are going to be worth the benefits.

Hook said one of the goals of the sanctions is not only to deny the regime the principal source of its revenue – some 40% – and its No. 1 source of cash, but also to suck the economic life out of the terror organization Hezbollah, predominantly funded by Iran.

The sanctions reimposed against Iran by the US in November have already denied Tehran $50b., Hook said, and that in turn has impacted Hezbollah’s income. He noted that in March, the leader of Hezbollah made a public appeal for donations – the first time that the Shiite group has ever had to do that.

“What we are doing is making it harder for Hezbollah to meet payroll, because 70% of Hezbollah’s revenue comes from the Iranian regime,” Hook told Al Arabiya. “Historically, Iran gives Hezbollah $700m. a year: that’s 70% of their budget.

On Monday, the US State Department also announced a new program that will offer up to $10m. in rewards for information leading to the disruption of Hezbollah’s global financial mechanisms. It is the first time that the department is offering such a reward regarding Hezbollah’s financial networks.

What’s promising is the new global alliance that the US administration is lining up, both in support of confronting Iran, and in realigning the Middle East – including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, countries that Hook said “share a lot of the United States’ national security goals when it comes to Iran... it’s in our interest and it’s in their interest to deny the Iranian regime the revenue it needs to fund its foreign policy… a convergence of interest, especially with Arab nations, Israel, the United States [and] many of our European allies.”

We applaud the move by the United States to continue enforcing sanctions and monitor compliance by any nation or entity interacting with Iran, and urge world powers to stand with the America to increase maximum pressure against Iran. It needs to be stopped.



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