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By Linda Givetash
Vice President Mike Pence chastised European leaders over Iran and Venezuela Saturday, renewing his criticism of U.S. allies in a speech to a security conference in Munich.
Europe should follow Washington’s lead in pulling out of the nuclear pact with Tehran and recognizing Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president, Pence said at the annual conference attended by top global defense and foreign policy officials.
“The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it,” said Pence, who visited the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz earlier in the week.
“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure.”
Pence’s latest speech reiterated remarks made in Poland on Thursday where he accused Britain, France and Germany of breaking American sanctions on Iran.
The nuclear deal was signed by the three European powers, along with Russia, China and the U.S., under President Barack Obama, in attempt to curb Iran’s path toward nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. President Donald Trump scrapped the deal in May, claiming it would not prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Addressing an audience that included Trump’s daughter Ivanka, Pence described the results of Trump’s presidency as “remarkable” and “extraordinary.”
“America is stronger than ever before and America is leading on the world stage once again,” Pence said, listing what he described as U.S. foreign policy successes from Afghanistan to North Korea.
While Pence championed his administration, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the split over Iran “depresses me very much,” as she questioned the wisdom of the U.S. approach.
“The only question that stands between us on this issue is, do we help our common cause, our common aim of containing the damaging or difficult development of Iran, by withdrawing from the one remaining agreement? Or do we help it more by keeping the small anchor we have in order maybe to exert pressure in other areas?” she added.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Washington of having a “pathological obsession” with his country.
Zarif said that the “same gang” behind the 2003 Iraq War are “at it again” in pushing for war with his country, with an added warning that “people will find out that it’s suicidal to engage in a war with Iran.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told NBC News after Pence’s speech in Munich on Saturday that the Trump administration is “completely wrong” on the subject of Iran.
“I would hope that before pulling out of Syria, or pulling out of the nuclear treaty, that he would consult with our allies, and their point of view,” she said.
Iran and Venezuela weren’t Pence’s only areas of focus in Munich. The vice president also took aim at Chinese telecom companies, particularly tech giant Huawei, which faces criminal charges in the U.S.
“We must protect our critical telecom infrastructure and America is calling on all our security partners to be vigilant,” he said, describing Huawei as a “threat” to national security systems.
A top Chinese official pushed back, defending Huawei and urging Europeans to ignore Washington.
Yang Jiechi told the Munich conference that Europeans “know where their own interests lie, so let there be fewer lectures,” accusing the U.S. of pushing its own self interests.
“The Europeans know very well what is the wise path for them to go forward,” he added.