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Hook Tells Senate If Iran's Missiles Not Contained, Regional War Might Ensue

Brian Hook testifying at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. October 16, 2019

U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook says that a forty-year history of the Islamic Republic shows that it only comes to the negotiating table when under threat of military force, sanctions or political isolation.

As an example of the outcome of pressuring Tehran, Hook referred to the International Football Federation (FIFA) that recently forced the Islamic Republic to allow Iranian women to enter a stadium and watch men's soccer games after four decades.

Speaking on Wednesday at the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, Hook asserted that Washington's policy concerning Tehran is based on exerting maximum pressure on Iran and pushing it into further diplomatic isolation.

While the United States was still in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, Hook told the Senators the Islamic Republic extended its support to terrorist groups and transferred missiles to its proxies in Iraq and Lebanon.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has visited the U.N. Security Council (UNSC)two or three times to highlight the expiration of the arms embargo on Iran in 2020, Hook affirmed, adding, "The U.N. Security Council needs to renew the arms embargo before it expires."

Hook was referring to UNSC's Resolution 2231 endorsed in July 2015, after Tehran and world powers (China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) agreed on the JCPOA.

The resolution stipulates that the arms embargo against Tehran terminates five years after inking the international agreement.

If the embargo is not renewed, Hook argued, countries like Russia and China would soon be able to sell conventional weapons to Tehran.

Meanwhile, Hook told the Committee that under Washington's pressure, Tehran and its proxies are weaker today.

"Iran no longer has enough money to pay Shi'ite military groups in Syria," Hook insisted, adding, "Iran doesn't have money it used to. Hezbollah and HAMAS have enacted austerity plans due to a lack of funding from Iran. In various parts of Lebanon, you can see piggy banks in grocery stores soliciting spare change from Lebanese citizens to support Hezbollah's operation."

Furthermore, under the sanctions, the Islamic Republic has been forced to cut 28% of its defense budget that includes a 17% cut for the IRGC funding, Hook reported to the session.

Referring to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest report that Iran's economic growth will be -9.5%, Hook noted that Washington believes that it would be up to -12%.

However, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran warned that if Tehran's missile program is not contained, a regional war might ensue.

During the same session, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the Committee described President Trump's approach toward Iran as "confusing."

Menendez also said that he was worried because Washington has had no specific strategy on Iran since its withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Iran's malicious behavior is dangerous, Menendez affirmed, adding that there is a consensus between Democrats and Republicans over the necessity of ending Tehran's and its proxies' destabilizing operations.

He also expressed concern that the hasty withdrawal of U.S. troop from Syria will benefit Iran.

"Withdrawing troops in northern Syria and greenlighting Turkey's brutal incursion gives new life to ISIS and hands over the keys to our national security to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, Iran and Assad," said Bob Menendez.

Hook replied: "The president's decision with respect to Syria is not going to change our Iran strategy or the efficacy of it."