After having imposed sanctions on Iran, the US is poised to choke off Iran’s financial support for terrorist groups in the region, Brian Hook, Washington’s special envoy on Iran, said on Thursday.
Before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hook said “Now that we have reimposed our sanctions, we are in a position to really go after all the revenue streams Iran uses to fund Hamas and Hezbollah, its missile proliferation – all the threats to peace and security that Iran presents.”
Hook told Netanyahu that he was a “fantastic and committed partner to this endeavor, and we are very grateful for all the support you give.”
Earlier this month, the US imposed a second round of sanctions on Iran
, targeting its crude oil trade. A first round of sanctions went into effect in August, three months after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal.
Netanyahu welcomed Hook by congratulating the US for “the powerful sanctions against Iran.”
The prime minister called these sanctions “the most important thing that has been done against the most aggressive power in the region.” He said that the sanctions are a “very important step to re-establish peace in our region and in the world.”
In an interview Wednesday with i24NEWS, Hook said the sanctions are “an opportunity to get a better [nuclear] deal that addresses not just the Iran’s nuclear program which is what the Iran deal does, but also addresses intercontinental ballistic missiles, terrorism, cyber threats, terror finance, maritime aggression, and their support of Hezbollah and Hamas.”
Hook said that the sanctions placed companies around the world with a choice: they can either do business with the US or Iran. “Given the size of the US market compared to the Iranian market, all major firms choose the US market,” he said.
Hook noted that the rial has sunk by 75% already this year, and that 100 major companies have announced they are pulling out of Iran. In addition, the SWIFT banking network, the main mechanism for international money transfers, announced earlier this week that it cut off 50 Iranian banks.
“The combination of all these things has a very powerful effect and the Iranian regime has to decide whether they want to keep promoting terrorism and instability around the Middle East or they can watch their economy collapse,” he said.
The European Union has come out against the sanctions, saying the Iranians have abided by their part of the 2015 nuclear agreement, and is trying to set up a mechanism – called the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – aimed at lessening the sanctions’ impact by protecting firms doing business with Iran.
This mechanism would serve as a bartering clearing house that would have EU goods bought by money to pay for Iranian oil and gas exports. While Brussels had hoped for this to be operational next year, Reuters reported that no country has offered to host it.
Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, quoted Hook on Thursday as telling reporters in a telephone briefing that European banks and firms that engage in a special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran will be at risk from the sanctions.
The report quoted Hook as saying that it was “no surprise” that EU efforts to establish the SPV were floundering over fear in EU capitals that hosting it would incur US punishment.
“European banks and European companies know that we will vigorously enforce sanctions against this brutal and violent regime,” he was quoted as saying.
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