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U.S. Envoy Hook Ramps Up Pressure On Iran, Warns European Companies


U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook. File photo

The United States increased pressure on Iran Thursday by renewing warnings to European businesses intending to interact with the country and voiced support for Iranians protesting policies of the Islamic Republic.

U.S. Special Representative Brian Hook waned on Thursday that European banks and firms who engage in a special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran will be at risk from newly reimposed U.S. sanctions.

It is "no surprise" that EU efforts to establish a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) were floundering over fear in EU capitals that hosting it would incur U.S. punishment, Special Representative Brian Hook said.

"European banks and European companies know that we will vigorously enforce sanctions against this brutal and violent regime," he said in a telephone briefing with reporters.

"Any major European company will always choose the American market over the Iranian market."

Hook also released a short video on Twitter, subtitled in Persian, outlining how the Islamic Republic has lost the trust of the Iranian people over the past four decades and said Washington supports their protests aimed at changing the policies of their government.

The proposed European SPV has been conceived as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods in an effective barter arrangement circumventing U.S. sanctions, based on global use of the dollar for oil sales.

Brussels had wanted to have the SPV legally in place by this month though not operational until next year, but no country has offered to host it, six diplomats told Reuters earlier this week.

Hook was in Israel on Thursday and met with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyau. It appears from a statement by the prime minister's office that Iran was the main topic of discussion.

Hook told Netanyahu, "Now that we have reimposed our sanctions we're in a position to really go after all of the revenue streams that Iran uses to fund Hamas and Hezbollah, its missile proliferation, all of the threats to peace and security that Iran presents. You are a fantastic and committed partner in this endeavor, and we're very grateful for all of the support you give."

With reporting by Reuters

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