The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said that Iran’s support to the Taliban in the form of weapons and funding is leading to further violence and hinders peace and stability of the Afghan people.
“Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaeda leaders,” Pompeo said at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, think tank.
He also demanded Iran make sweeping changes from dropping its nuclear program to pulling out of the Syrian civil war or face severe economic sanctions as President Donald Trump’s administration hardened its approach to Tehran.
He vowed “unprecedented financial pressure in the form of the strongest sanctions in history” unless Iran renounced all its nuclear activities, its ballistic-missile program, and its support of regional proxies.
“The [Iranian] regime has been fighting all over the Middle East for years,” he said, adding that “after our sanctions come in force, it will be battling to keep its economy alive. Iran will be forced to make a choice: Either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or squander precious wealth on fights abroad. It will not have the resources to do both.”
And if there were ever any doubts, Pompeo’s unambiguous remarks were complemented by the US Defense Department, where a spokesman said the US will take “all necessary steps to confront and address Iran’s malign influence in the region.”
He also said that two weeks ago, Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal for a simple reason: “It failed to guarantee the safety of the American people from the risk created by the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“No more. No more wealth creation for Iranian kleptocrats. No more acceptance of missiles landing in Riyadh and in the Golan Heights. No more cost-free expansions of Iranian power. No more,” he said.
Pompeo was clear Monday that European companies would not be granted special waivers to work in Iran.
“We understand that our reimposition of sanctions and coming campaign on the Iranian regime will pose economic difficulties for a number of our friends—indeed, it imposes economic challenges to America as well,” he said. “These are markets our businesses would love to sell into as well. And we want to hear their concerns, but, you know, we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account,” he said.
In the meantime, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani dismissed threats made Pompeo, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts Washington making decisions on their behalf.
"The world today does not accept that the United States decides for the world. Countries have their independence," Rouhani said in a statement carried by multiple Iranian news agencies.
But, Afghanistan’s ministry of defense has said that there is no evidence so far to prove that Iran was supporting the Taliban.
“Until now we have not had any solid evidence regarding the issue, but investigations are ongoing in this respect,” said MoD spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.
Last week the Defense Minister Lieutenant General Tariq Shah Bahrami said the war in Farah, which borders Iran, is “a war over water” and that some countries in the region are trying to destabilize Afghanistan.
“The war in Farah is definitely a war over water management,” Bahrami said. “We were placed in a situation when work on Salma Dam was completed and work was started on Bakhsh Abad Dam (in the west zone).”
But in an interview with TOLOnews, Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Reza Bahrami rejected the allegations.
“If we were really against the establishment of Salma Dam, then we would not allow Iranian cement to be exported to Afghanistan and would never allow Iranian companies to work here, I want to add that this topic honestly suits TAPI also,” said Bahrami.