Pompeo to lay out Plan B for Iran

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A senior adviser to the secretary of state wouldn’t give details but says the goal is to achieve a ‘better’ and more ‘comprehensive’ deal than the 2015 nuclear pact.

Now that it has quit the Iran nuclear deal and angered its European allies, the Trump administration is ready to start talking about Plan B.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver a speech Monday at the Heritage Foundation that lays out a “comprehensive strategy” for what the United States, European countries and others can do to rein in Iran’s nuclear and non-nuclear activities, officials said.

The speech will come nearly two weeks after President Donald Trump announced that the United States was quitting the Iran deal. How European leaders react to it will offer a measure of the strength of U.S.-European ties, which have been badly strained in the Trump era.

Brian Hook, a senior adviser to Pompeo, said the Trump administration views the abandonment of the nuclear deal as an “opportunity,” not a self-inflicted wound, as other world leaders have suggested.

“We need a new framework that’s going to address the totality of Iran’s threats,” Hook told reporters in a conference call Friday. “We see an opportunity to counter and address Iran’s nuclear and proliferation threats and to create a better nonproliferation and deterrence architecture for Iran and the region.”

Hook declined to share details ahead of Pompeo’s speech, but he promised it is aimed at achieving a “better deal” than the 2015 nuclear deal, which was negotiated by the Barack Obama administration.

The deal gave Iran relief from economic sanctions in exchange for severe curbs on its nuclear program. Aside from the U.S. and Iran, the deal involved Germany, Britain, France, China and Russia. International inspectors say Iran has been upholding its end of the agreement.

But Trump insists the deal was too narrow and that, instead of focusing only on nuclear issues, it should have dealt with Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as its aggressive military activities in the Middle East. Trump also criticized the fact that some provisions in the agreement expire starting in the next decade.

The U.S. president announced May 8 that, in quitting the deal, he will reimpose economic sanctions on Iran and on companies in other countries that do business with the Islamist-led state.

European leaders have been talking to Iran about how to salvage the deal sans the U.S. It’s a challenge for European countries because staying in the deal could expose their companies to U.S. sanctions, but they are mulling ways to block U.S. penalties on their firms.

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