Mike Pompeo predicts more protests in Iran

US Secretary of State linked unrest with decisions made by the leadership to pursue nuclear programme

epa06787696 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to greet Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi before the two held a meeting at the Department of State in Washington, DC, 05 June 2018. The two did not answer any questions.  EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on Wednesday over increasing its uranium enrichment levels and predicted more protests in the Islamic republic as unhappy citizens contrasted their difficult economic conditions with efforts to restart the nuclear programme.

Following Iran's announcement on Tuesday that it plans to increase its enrichment capacity, Mr Pompeo tweeted that the US is watching and is resolved not to allow Tehran to get a nuclear weapon.

"We're watching reports that #Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity. We won't allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve. It's another example of Iran foolishly squandering its resources. It should surprise no one if protests in Iran continue" Mr Pompeo tweeted on Wednesday.

The US said it will wait for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report on Iran’s enrichment before making an official response.

But Mr Pompeo's tweet makes yet another linkage in the US strategy between preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapon and economic conditions fuelling protests there. Mr Pompeo is predicting more protests.

Companies such as Total, General Motors, Peugeot, Maersk, Siemens, Allianz, British Petroleum and others have abandoned their ventures in or with Iran ahead of anticipated US sanctions after President Donald Trump walked out on the deal on May 8.

Boeing announced on Wednesday it was aborting delivery of aircraft to Iran.

“We have not delivered any aircraft to Iran, and given we no longer have a licence to sell to Iran at this time, we will not be delivering any aircraft,” its spokesman was reported as saying by Agence France Presse.

The pressure comes as more protests are reported in Iran on social media. Those included a lorry drivers’ strike last week which reportedly took place across many provinces and cities in Iran.

The protests are mostly economy driven and have been taking place in Iran intermittently since last December.