Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US envoy Brian Hook and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
The United States is looking to sign a new agreement with Iran that covers its nuclear and missile programs, the country’s regional aggression and the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals including Americans, according to US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook.
In an interview with Al Arabiya English, Hook said, “That is the kind of deal we need. We are ready to negotiate something like that.”
“You can either work with the United States or you can work with Iran, but you can’t do both,” Hook told the Saudi-owned television news channel.
He noted that the United States has denied the Iranian regime more than $10 billion in revenue and expects that amount to increase dramatically, with the support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, countries that Hook said, “share a lot of the United States’ national security goals when it comes to Iran."
"Yes, we had very good meetings with both of the Saudis and the Emiratis," he continued. "So it’s in our interest and it’s in their interest to deny the Iranian regime the revenue it needs to fund its foreign policy.
“And now Saudi Arabia has been very helpful, increasing its production as it did many months ago in order to offset the loss of Iranian crude, and they’ll continue to be helpful,” he said. “So, there’s a convergence of interest - especially with Arab nations, Israel, the United States [and] many of our European allies. We want a more peaceful Iran, and that’s up to Iran. They can either start behaving more peacefully or they can watch their economy crumble.”
The White House officially announced Monday its intention to end sanction waivers on eight countries that are still trading oil with Iran, increasing its “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic republic. Current exemptions are set to expire in early May.
Some of the countries that are slated to be affected are allies such as India. Other countries that will be affected include China and Turkey, which could open new friction.
The goal of the sanctions is not only to create a more peaceful Iranian regime, but also to suck the economic life out of the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is predominantly funded by Iran, though it also receives money from business investments, donor networks and money laundering activities.
“What we are doing is making it harder for Hezbollah to meet payroll, because 70% of Hezbollah’s revenue comes from the Iranian regime,” Hook told Al Arabiya. “Historically, Iran gives Hezbollah $700 million a year - that’s 70% of their budget.”
The State Department designated Hezbollah a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in October 2001.
Hook noted that in March, the leader of Hezbollah made a public appeal for donations; it was the first time in history they’ve had to do that.
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