Speaking at a U.S.-led conference about the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday, Vice President piled on the potent anti-Iran sentiment surrounding the conference by demanding that European Union (EU) allies withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump ditched last year, and accused Iran of plotting a "new Holocaust."
"Instead of recognizing the U.S.' failed Iran policy, Pence is doubling down in his search for an excuse to go to war."
Pence accused Iran of being "the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world" and "the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East" while attempting to shame European leaders over their recent "effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions...against Iran's murderous revolutionary regime."
His speech was met with a mix of frustration and alarm:
— NIAC (@NIACouncil) February 14, 2019
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) February 14, 2019
Can someone remind me how things turned out the last time the US pushed flimsy evidence of a nuclear weapons program in the Middle East and tried to bully its allies into supporting its policy? https://t.co/VPmclojONd
— Nicholas Miller (@Nick_L_Miller) February 14, 2019
Ahead of Pence's trip to Poland, human rights campaigner Sunjeev Bery was among those warning the vice president's itinerary itself was part of a coordinated strategy to exploit the Jewish Holocaust in Europe with the Trump administration's efforts to whip up more anti-Iranian sentiment:
1. Visit Auschwitz. (acknowledge the holocaust)
2. Meet with Netanyahu (support oppression of Palestinians)
3. Promote anti-Iran propaganda (lay groundwork for next U.S. war)
We should not allow U.S. politicians to mix #1 with #2 and #3. https://t.co/mBjGBGAqZB
— Sunjeev Bery (@SunjeevBery) February 12, 2019
In addition to Pence, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani—who is officially representing a group of Iranian exiles rather than the Trump team—are all attending the summit and have made threatening remarks about Iran. While the Trump administration has tried to claim the conference is not just about policy toward Iran, observers have characterized that claim as ridiculous:
My dispatch from the summit in Poland that's definitely not about Iran:
-Pence: Europe must abandon nuclear deal with Iran
-Pompeo: It's time to 'confront Iran'
-Netanyahu: Let's 'combat'/go to 'war' with Iran
-Giuliani: We need Iran regime-change
— Kim Hjelmgaard (@khjelmgaard) February 14, 2019
As Pence noted in his Thursday address, rather than siding with the Trump administration and ditching the nuclear deal—officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—EU leaders have accepted assurances from the U.N. watchdog that Iran has been compliant and continue working with the Iranians to salvage the deal. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has ignored global calls for returning to the agreement and increasingly ramped up tensions by exiting a decades-old bilateral treaty and reimposing economic sanctions.
Pompeo and Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton have been accused of fomenting unrest in Iran in the name of forcing regime change. Last month, just days after Pompeo delivered an "arrogant tirade" vilifying the country, it came out that Bolton had ordered the Pentagon to draw up military strike options against Iran. Earlier this week, Bolton marked the 40th anniversary of Iran's 1979 revolution with barely veiled threats. Each move has provoked warnings that "the drums of war are beating."