Trump willing to talk to Iran, but action on nuclear program must come first: Brian Hook

Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, looks on during a press conference in Kuwait City on June 23, 2019 during a tour of the Middle East region. (AFP)
Updated 24 June 2019

Trump willing to talk to Iran, but action on nuclear program must come first: Brian Hook

  • Hook told reporters that Iran could “come to the table or watch its economy crumble”

LONDON: US President Donald Trump is ready to talk to Iran about a deal that would lift American sanctions but Tehran would need to curtain its nuclear and missile program, as well as its support for proxies, US Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook said on Monday.
Hook told reporters that Iran could “come to the table or watch its economy crumble,” but declined to give more details about fresh US sanctions expected later on Monday.
Hook was speaking to media by telephone from Oman, where he is touring Gulf countries — including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait — before heading to Paris for talks with his E3 counterparts.

Hook told reporters that the US was looking to agree a treaty that would be ratified by the US Congress, saying the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers was flawed because it had no legal basis.

"This is a president who is very willing to sit down with the regime," Hook said, speaking by telephone from Oman, where he is touring Gulf countries before heading to Paris to explain U.S. policy to European powers. "I think the question people should be asking is ... why Iran continues to reject diplomacy."

The US withdrew last year from the 2015 accord under which Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Last week the two countries came the closest in years to direct military confrontation after Iran shot down a US drone. Trump called off a retaliatory air strike minutes before impact.

Hook, who accused Tehran of "violent responses to diplomatic pressure," said Iran could come to the negotiating table or watch its economy "continue to crumble."

"They are in a recession now, it is going to get significantly worse," he said ahead of an expected announcement later on Monday on further US sanctions.

He said there was no diplomatic contact, or back channel, between Washington and Tehran at present. Hook said elements of a deal with Tehran would need to involve an end to the arrest of dual nationals in Iran and an end to support for what he said were Iranian proxies in the Middle East who committed clandestine attacks on Iran's behalf.


Explosion hits arms depot for Iran-backed faction in Iraq

Updated 20 August 2019

Explosion hits arms depot for Iran-backed faction in Iraq

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security officials say an explosion has happened in an arms depot belonging to an Iranian-backed militia faction north of Baghdad.
The explosion is the latest in a series of mysterious blasts that have rocked military bases and weapons depots around the country recently.
The explosions have been in bases and warehouses belonging to militia groups under the umbrella of the mainly Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Some have been blamed on drone attacks, others on faulty storage.
No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's explosion near the Balad air base in Salaheddin province or either of the other two explosions.
In response, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi last week banned unauthorized flights throughout the country.