Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has formed a new Iran Action Group which will be headed by senior policy advisor Brian Hook.
Hook unsuccessfully led the efforts to negotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal) ahead of the president’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The group’s formation comes only a week after the president reimposed harsh economic sanctions against Iran and threatened anyone who continues to trade with them, including U.S. allies such as the European Union.
“The Iran regime has been a force for instability and violence. Our new strategy addresses all manifestations of the Iranian threat, and the new Iran Action Group will be focused on implementing that strategy.” — Hook
Pompeo has said that the Iran Action Group (IAG) will be responsible for coordinating all action against Iran with the Department of State and will collaborate with other nations “which share our understanding of the Iranian threat.”
“Our hope is that one day soon we can reach a new agreement with Iran, but we must see major changes in the regime’s behavior, both inside and outside its borders. The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation. The Iran Action Group will drive daily progress on these objectives, and I hope do much more.” — Pompeo
Many, including former Iranian officials, have expressed doubts over whether or not the Iranian government will ever be able to trust the U.S. enough to re-enter into any agreement following Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA.
“My first response is that while Iran and the U.S. already agreed on a deal and the U.S. violated it, how Iranians they can trust the U.S. to enter a new negotiation? Let’s say there would be a new negotiation. Let’s say there would be an agreement with President Trump. Who can guarantee the next U.S. president would not come and would not violate it? President Obama agreed. It was not bilateral agreement; it was an international agreement. It had U.N. resolution. Despite of all this, President Trump, after Obama, publicly said it was a bad mistake and, “Oh, I am going to kill it.” How the U.S. can assure Iranians if there is a negotiation, if there is an agreement, the next U.S. president is not going to do what President Trump did with Obama’s negotiation?” — Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian
The reimposition of economic sanctions prompted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to liken the situation to a mugging, where one person is being held at knifepoint and made to compromise.
“The first step would be for U.S. President Donald Trump to show that he genuinely wants to engage in negotiations to solve a problem. What’s the meaning of negotiations when you impose sanctions at the same time? It’s like someone pulling a knife to stab a rival or an enemy in the arm while at the same time claiming we should be talking and negotiating. The answer in such a case would be to say, “Remove the knife from the arm and put the knife away.” — Rouhani
Meanwhile, the White House has indicated that it may impose sanctions on China over its imports of Iranian oil.
The United States and China are already engaged in a multi-billion dollar trade war.
Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story.