U.S. ANNOUNCES NEW MOVES AGAINST IRAN, THREATENS TURKEY WITH MORE SANCTIONS
The United States State Department has announced the creation of the Iran Action Group (IAG) to execute the administration's Iran strategy and pressure the country to change its behaviours.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said here Thursday the group will be responsible for directing, reviewing, and coordinating "all aspects of the State Department's Iran-related activity, and it will report directly to me".
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US would slap more sanctions on Turkey if a detained American pastor was not released.
Pompeo, saying that Tehran has been engaged in "a torrent of violent and destabilizing behaviou" against the US and its allies for nearly 40 years, added: "We are committed to a whole-of-government effort to change the Iranian regime's behaviour."
The IAG will ensure that the Department of State remains closely synchronized with inter-agency partners, and lead US diplomatic efforts to "galvanize international support for our efforts".
Brian Hook, the current director of Policy Planning in the State Department, will lead the group with the formal title of Special Representative for Iran.
Washington left the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, saying it would re-impose sanctions on Iran which had been lifted under the deal.
Pompeo, on May 21, rolled out the new US strategy on Iran, outlining 12-point requirements for Iran to change its behaviours.
The US government on Aug. 7 re-imposed sanctions on Iran on non-energy areas, and will slap the remaining sanctions on Nov 5 that concentrate on such areas as energy, shipping and ports.
For its part, Tehran has said that the US side is unreliable and it will not talk with Washington.
Meanwhile, Mnuchin said at a Cabinet meeting "we have put sanctions on several of their (Tuekey's) Cabinet members" and "we have more that we are planning to do if they don't release him (Pastor Andrew Brunson) quickly".
President Donald Trump also said regarding Turkey that "they have not proven to be a good friend" to the United States.
On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the US would consider lifting sanctions that had been placed on Turkey if Ankara released Brunson and other detained US citizens.
Brunson, a 50-year-old Christian pastor, was detained two years ago in Turkey on spying charges, and faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.
He was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, which Turkey accuses of being behind a coup attempt in 2016 to topple Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The US Department of the Treasury on Aug 1 slapped sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers, citing their roles in the detention of the pastor.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK