US Secretary of State names special representative for Iran

Elias Hubbard
August 17, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is forming a dedicated group to coordinate and run USA policy toward Iran as the Trump administration moves ahead with efforts to force changes in the Islamic Republic's behavior after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named Brian Hook as the new "special representative" for Iran, who will head up an 'Iran Action Group'.

"For almost 40 years, the regime in Tehran has been responsible for a torrent of violent and destabilizing behavior against the United States, our allies, our partners, and indeed the Iranian people themselves", Pompeo said, painting the effort as part of a campaign being conducted "in solidarity with the Iranian people".

CBS News' Kylie Atwood reports that the State Department now faces a November 4th deadline when sanctions will be reimposed on those who are importing Iranian oil.

Hook said Iran will have to demonstrate its willingness to fundamentally change its behavior in the region before direct talks can resume between the two nations.

Hook, now director of policy planning at the State Department, was in charge of the failed effort to get support from U.S. allies for Washington's decision in May to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. He said the administration was taking "a comprehensive approach to Iran because the scope of Iranian malign activity is so wide-ranging".

Hook said the goal of his division will be to execute Trump's Iran strategy to protect the security of the USA and its allies and to "promote a brighter future for the Iranian people".

"Secretary Pompeo's establishment of the Iran Action Group led by Brian Hook, one of his most trusted advisers, is further evidence that the Trump administration sees Iran as one of its top foreign policy and national security priorities", according to Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Despite the Trump administration's "bombastic rhetoric" on Iran, Macaron said he does not see any resemblance to Bush's policy on Iraq in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion. "The supreme leader has said negotiations will have to wait in order to soften up America". The source added that Abadi's new position was meant to address this issue in a way that calms Iran's ire but does not trigger U.S. anger.

It set 12 areas where "Iran needs to change its behavior", Hook said, including ending all nuclear activities - even those permitted under the earlier agreement - as well as ending ballistic missile development and testing, and support for what Pompeo called "terrorists and militant partners around the world".

Back in May, the United States withdrew from a 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran and said it would re-introduce the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord. Companies from France, Britain and Germany, all remaining signatories to the agreement, have withdrawn their investments in Iran, fearing problems with the United States, although Russian Federation and China, who also signed, have said they will remain active in the Iranian economy.

Washington left the Iran nuke deal on May 8, saying it would re-impose sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the deal.

In July, Pompeo delivered another scathing speech, this time targeting Iran's leadership, accusing Tehran's ruling ayatollahs of spreading violence across the Middle East and lining their own pockets with ill-gotten gains at the expense of ordinary Iranians.

Harvard scholar and Iranian-affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh said the regime in Tehran is in deep trouble at home as the sanctions, which came into effect last week, are working.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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