Pence urges EU, NATO partners to support U.S. on Iran, Venezuela, China

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday lashed out at the EU and NATO over their unwillingness to follow Washington’s lead on issues pertaining to Iran, Venezuela and China,  the Financial Times reported.

"The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining U.S. sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime. The time has come for our European partners to stand with us and with the Iranian people. The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal," Pence said in his address at the Munich Security Conference.

US President Donald Trump in May announced he would withdraw from an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran and reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

Russia, China and three EU countries vowed to stay in the agreement and continue non-dollar trade with Tehran while, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in January announced the establishment of a mechanism designed to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Tehran, keeping the nuclear deal afloat.

“We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defence of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,’’ Pence said in an apparent reference to Turkey's decision to procure S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

Ankara has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile defence system, despite warnings from the U.S.-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defence system. 

Turkey on Saturday said it not renege on plans to purchase the missile systems from Russia, despite Washington’s Feb. 15 informal deadline for Turkish government to respond a rival U.S. offer regarding a $3.5-billion sale of Patriot air defence batteries to Ankara.

Pence touched on the political crisis in Venezuela, calling the  Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a dictator.

"The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy. Nicolas Maduro is a dictator… and Nicolas Maduro must go," Pence said, adding, ‘’it's time for the rest of the world to step forward," he said.

Washington has been leading the campaign to remove Maduro from office, being of the first to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president. 

Russia, China, Mexico, Turkey, Uruguay, and several other states have voiced their support of Maduro as the embattled country’s only legitimate president.

Pence also urged EU partners to take more action against the threat posed by Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

"[U.S.] provide Beijing's vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network or equipment (and) we must protect our critical telecom infrastructure," Pence said.

Washington has voiced its concerns on the access and enhanced ability China would gain over sensitive and confidential information through Huawei’s 5G network.