In a speech at the Middle East Summit in Warsaw, Vice President Mike Pence demanded that other nations withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and criticized some of America’s closest allies for creating a workaround to avoid U.S. sanctions. Pence specifically called out Britain, France and Germany for establishing a firm to facilitate trade with Iran without using the American dollar.
In his speech, Pence criticized a mechanism used by European countries to sidestep sanctions. “We call it an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the E.U. and create still more distance between Europe and America.”
The vice president also took aim at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the Iran nuclear deal, from which the United States has now withdrawn. Many European nations, including conference host country Poland, still support the 2015 agreement under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. These countries insist that Iran is in compliance with the agreement, and argument dismissed by Pence.
“Compliance is not the issue,” Pence said. “The deal is the issue.”
The State Department has been saying for several weeks that this summit would be about a range of topics, not just Iran. The meeting was originally conceived as a way to put pressure on the regime, but after pushback from European allies, the official agenda was broadened to include broader issues like migration, humanitarian crises and terrorism.
In his opening remarks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the group of more than 60 international delegations that “no one issue” would dominate the discussions. Minutes before that, Pompeo met with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who told reporters the summit’s Middle Eastern delegates were united by a common foe.
“In a room of some 60 foreign ministers, an Israeli Prime Minister and the foreign ministers of leading Arab countries stood together and spoke with unusual force, clarity and unity against a common threat of the Iranian state,” Netanyahu told reporters.
A journalist then asked Pompeo if the Prime Minister was right, and the non-Iran summit would focus on ways to combat Tehran.
“You can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran,” he said. “It’s just not possible.”