'Iran's nuclear extortion bid to deepen econ isolation'

'Iran's nuclear extortion bid to deepen econ isolation'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo by Reuters)

Following recent assertion by Tehran of its intention to resume uranium enrichment at its Fordow facility, the United States on Monday said it would withdraw its sanction waiver to Iran's facility.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the US decision to end its sanction waiver for Iran's Fordow nuclear facility, terming the Tehran assertion as "one of nuclear extortion" and warning that it would only deepen Iran's political and economic isolation from the world.

"The United States will terminate the sanctions waiver related to the nuclear facility at Fordow effective December 15, 2019," Pompeo told a news conference, pointing to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's announcement of renewed activity at Fordow.

“The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero,” Pompeo told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Iran originally built Fordow as a fortified, underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site, he said.

Iran should reverse its activity there immediately, the secretary of state demanded.

“Iran’s supreme leader is reverting to his tried-and-true method of using nuclear brinksmanship to extort the international community into accepting the regime’s destabilizing activity,” Pompeo alleged, asserting that the US rejects this approach completely and calls on all nations to do the same.

“The only viable way forward is through comprehensive negotiations that address the full range of Iran’s threats in their entirety. Iran’s most recent action is yet another clear attempt at nuclear extortion that will only deepen its political and economic isolation from the world," said Pompeo.

The latest US step comes amid Iran being rocked by violent protests sparked by the sudden decision to hike gas prices.

Pompeo voiced solidarity with the protesters.

"The authoritarian Iranian regime must cease violence against its own people and immediately restore the ability of all its people to access a free and open Internet," he added.

"The US is monitoring the ongoing protests in Iran closely," he said.

Strongly condemning acts of violence by the present Iranian regime against its people, Pompeo said the US is deeply concerned by reports of several fatalities.

“We’ve been at that since the beginning of this administration. The world is watching,” he said.

"The Iranian people will enjoy a better future when their government begins to respect basic human rights, abandons its revolutionary posture and its destabilizing foreign policy in the region, and behaves simply like a normal nation," he said.

Responding to questions, Pompeo said the US wants Iran to be a normal nation, and it wants the people there to have the freedom to which they’re entitled.

"We want the regime’s money to be spent on things that benefit the Iranian people, not proxy forces in Iraq, not underwriting Hizballah, not conducting assassination campaigns throughout Europe,” he said.

“We want the Iranian regime to behave like a normal nation, to take care of their people, and I think that is what you are hearing and seeing in these protests that are taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran over these past few days,” Pompeo said.

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