Saudi Arabia insists on expanding sanctions against Iran in tune with Washington

Sputnik – A visit to the Middle East is the first foreign tour of Mike Pompeo after being appointed the top US diplomat.

Saudi Arabia backs the US stance on Iran and insists on expanding sanctions against the country, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“It is necessary to introduce new sanctions in response to Iran’s support for terrorism, its missile program and interference in the affairs of Arab countries. We support the policy of the US president [Donald Trump] concerning Iran, especially with regard to amending the nuclear agreement,” Jubeir pointed out.

The US state secretary, in turn, said that Tehran “destabilizes the situation in the region:

“We will not turn a blind eye to its terrorist activities,” he stressed. “If Iran fails to improve the nuclear deal, we will withdraw from it,” Pompeo said, noting that the policy of the Islamic Republic “has deteriorated significantly after the conclusion of the agreement.”

Pompeo also reiterated that Saudi Arabia’s security remains a priority for the United States. His statement comes amid the intensification of missile strikes exchanged between the kingdom and Yemeni Houthi rebels. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, its key rival in the region, have been tense over the past few years, with Riyadh accusing Iran of supplying weapons, including missiles, to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which Tehran vehemently denies.

In August 2017, Trump enacted new sanctions against Iran targeting individuals who are engaged in the Iranian government’s ballistic missile program, which “threatens Washington and its allies in the Middle East.” The US also imposed restrictions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite faction of Iran’s military, which Washington claims is responsible for Tehran’s “policy of supporting terrorists.”

Responding to these accusations, Tehran stated that the US restrictions violated the provisions of the JCPOA, dubbed the Iran nuclear deal, which stipulates the gradual cancellation of sanctions in exchange for Tehran keeping its nuclear program peaceful.

In October 2017, Donald Trump announced more sanctions against Iranian entities related to the ballistic missile program and the IRGC and apart from that stated that his administration had decided not to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. He added that the White House would work with Congress and its allies abroad to fix “many serious flaws” of the agreement and threatened to pull the US out of the deal if the agreement is not amended.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly certified that Tehran has been fulfilling its nuclear-related commitments. Following Trump’s statement, IAEA director General Yukiya Amano reiterated that “the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented.”

Tehran has repeatedly stated that the agreement is not subject to revision and if the US withdraws, Iran will have to take reciprocal measures.

The JCPOA was signed in July 2015 by Iran, five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, Britain, China, the United States, France) and Germany. The agreement stipulated the abolition of anti-Iranian sanctions imposed by the UN, the US and the EU over the country’s nuclear program.