Brian Hook denied on Wednesday that there were any discussions occurring between the US and Iran in an interview with Al-Arabiya, after i24News reported on Tuesday that secret meetings between the two countries occurred in Iraq last week. Iran has rejected diplomacy "too many times," Hook said, and "right now, there are no back-channel talks between the US and Iran."
Hook also stressed that the Islamic Republic must change its behavior in order to stop the sanctions, according to Al-Arabiya. “We, for the first time, are saying no to the Iranian regime. There is no acceptable level of lethal assistance to its proxies. There is no acceptable level of threatening your neighbors day in and day out. They've got to change their behavior,” he said.
i24News reported on Tuesday evening that secret meetings between United States officials and Iranian representatives were conducted in a hotel in Erbil, Iraq. The Iranian representatives were led by Hassan Khomenei, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei.The Iranian delegation also included two officials from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iraj Masjedi, Iran's special envoy to Iraq, according to the report.i24News also said the that sources suggest that Iran's Revolutionary Guard have experienced division recently, suggesting that the Islamic Republic is undergoing a soft coup.There have also been reports that Iran contacted Kurdish opposition parties based in Iraq, but the talks remained "useless," internal Iranian sources told i24News.'The Iranian Communist Party,' a Kurdish opposition party, announced that some of the major Kurdish parties have secretly met with Iranian officials for the past two years.Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Security Advisor John Bolton for killing the Paris agreement by insisting on 0% uranium enrichment in a tweet."Bolton & Netanyahu killed Paris agreement between E3 & Iran in '05 by insisting on zero enrichment," tweeted Zarif. "Result? Iran increased its enrichment 100 fold by 2012."Zarif blamed the two officials "lured" Trump into leaving the JCPOA nuclear agreement as well."#B_Team hasn't learned. BUT THE WORLD SHOULD," concluded Zarif.On Monday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, confirmed an announcement that Tehran had enriched uranium beyond the deal's limit of 3.67% purity, passing 4.5%, according to the student's news agency ISNA. This was later verified by the IAEA.Also on Monday, Zarif tweeted that the US should not expect a better deal than the 2015 nuclear deal."#B_Team sold @realDonaldTrump on the folly that killing #JCPOA thru #EconomicTerrorism can get him a better deal," Zarif wrote, referring to the nuclear deal by its acronym, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)."As it becomes increasingly clear that there won’t be a better deal, they're bizarrely urging Iran's full compliance. There's a way out, but not with #B_Team in charge."Earlier this week, the Iranian Fars news agency reported that a senior commander in the Iraqi army disclosed information on military bases along the Iraq-Syria border to a CIA agent, according to audio files and WhatsApp chats released by the Iraqi Hezbollah terror group.Mahmoud al-Falahi, the commander of operations in the al-Anbar province of Iraq, was asked by a CIA agent, who is an Iraqi national, to provide geographic coordinates of existing military bases along the border between Iraq and Syria "to be attacked by US and Israeli forces."The CIA agent also instructed al-Falahi to meet with US army and intelligence service commanders in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan region or at the US forces' base in al-Habaniyeh" in Western Iraq, according to Fars.Iraqi Hezbollah used the audio files to show al-Falahi's "plot against the Iraqi army, security, Hashd al-Shaabi (the Popular Mobilization Forces) and resistance forces" and warned that the spying he had done for the CIA and Israeli Mossad had endangered Iran's national security.Mohammad Mohie, spokesman for Iraqi Hezbollah, claimed on Saturday that the US is attempting to smuggle al-Falahi out of Iraq, according to the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news agency."The US embassy should be condemned for its role in Iraq as well as the US forces," said Mohie. "We have been in a confrontation with Washington ever since its entry into Iraq because of the crimes it committed. America cannot be trusted or dealt with properly."Reuters and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.