By Safvan Allahverdi
The Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning on Monday said the U.S. will take all necessary steps against Iran's alleged malicious activities in the region.
Speaking at a weekly press briefing, Manning responded to reporters' question about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remark about Iran, threatening Tehran with the "strongest sanctions in history" if it did not change its regional policies.
When asked whether the Pentagon will respond similar to the State Department, Manning said Iran's "malicious activities" are harmful as they remain a threat to the stability of the region and Pentagon will do anything in order to prevent it.
Pompeo issued Monday a lengthy list of demands the U.S. is seeking to include in a new nuclear deal with Iran after President Donald Trump exited Washington from the landmark accord brokered by his predecessor and world powers.
Pompeo called on Iran to halt a host of its activities in the Middle East that Washington has taken umbrage with, including its military support for the Syrian regime, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Yemen's Houthi rebels. He further said Tehran should stop threatening Israel, and release all U.S. citizens in Iranian custody.
In addition, Iran must "stop enrichment" of uranium, which was allowed with limits under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, allow access to all sites in Iran, Pompeo said, referring to military sites that require special authorizations under the accord, and declare all alleged past efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Pompeo further called on Iran to halt its ballistic missile program.
He promised the "sting of sanctions will be painful" should Tehran not change course "from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations".
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed threats made by Pompeo, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts U.S. making decisions on their behalf.
"Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? The world today doesn’t accept that the U.S. decides for the world. Countries have their own independence," Rouhani said in a statement, according to Iranian news agencies.
Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord struck between world powers and Tehran has rattled close U.S. allies in Europe who had been counseling the American president against taking such a unilateral action.