WASHINGTON – Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s special representative on Iran said on Wednesday that as a consequence of the maximum pressure campaign, the US has dried up the revenue that the regime would otherwise spend. He noted that since 2012, the regime spent over $10 billion in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
“We’d like to get to a new deal, but don’t lose sight of the fact of what we’ve been able to accomplish by really putting this regime on its back, by restoring the military deterrence and maintaining it,” he said in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum. “We’re very pleased with our strategy,” he continued. “The door continues to be wide open for diplomacy. The supreme leader has chosen resistance over diplomacy. That’s his decision.”
He also called to restore the UN Security Council standard of no enrichment. “When I was in the council in the Bush administration, we were able to negotiate a prohibition on no enrichment. That’s binding international law and China and Russia voted for it. That is the standard that we have to restore.” He added that such a demand will “get us out of this debate of how close Iran is. Iran does use nuclear blackmail in order to win concessions.”
He also addressed the expiring arms embargo on Iran, and noted that the US will “very soon” put forward a Security Council resolution, calling to extend the embargo. Hook said that all the countries in the Middle East are speaking in one voice around the measure.
“You have the Saudis, the Emirates, the Bahrainis, Yemen and Israel, all in complete agreement that the arms embargo needs to be extended,” he said. “And when the Arabs and Israelis come together on something, I really think it’s important for the international community to pay attention. And we have to listen to what the region is saying.”
The special representative also said that it was a mistake “to ever allow in year five of the Iran deal to let the arms embargo expire on the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of State under the Obama administration, who negotiated the 2015 nuclear agreement, spoke at the Security forum as well, and said that since Trump decided to leave the deal, “it has gotten us to a really bad place.”
“Iran is now enriching at higher levels with more centrifuges. They are still supporting proxies in the region. They’re still abusing the rights of their own people. They are not a responsible player in the international community,” Sherman said. “I appreciate that the Trump administration put the maximum pressure campaign and they indeed have, but what it has gotten them, and Brian said this himself, is resistance. The administration has had a series of tactics, but it is not clear to me at all what the strategic objective is. The administration said it’s not regime change. And yet they said they’re creating leverage to get a better negotiation, but I think we all see that Iran is nowhere close to negotiating [with] the administration. So we’re in a quite worse place.”