Brian Hook: If nuclear deal continued, Iran would be stronger aggressor today
If the US had not pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran would be a stronger aggressor today because the restrictions on its nuclear program would have been lifted eventually, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Al Arabiya English on the sidelines of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop in Bahrain.
“We have put in place the right foreign policy at the right time- it is long overdue. And everything that we’re dealing with now is in many ways inevitable because this Iran deal, the nuclear restrictions are going to lift eventually and Iran would probably be doing exactly what they’re doing today down the road but they’d be stronger,” Hook told Al Arabiya English’s Editor-in-Chief Mohammed Alyahya.
The agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers and Iran, lifted most US and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran had agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program, which it has been regularly accused of breaching.
Among the slew of accusations against Iran is its funding of terrorist proxies in the region. Hook said that through sanctions, the US is denying the regime “up to $50 billion in oil revenue exports,” something which is felt by their proxies around the region who are “experiencing a financial strain they never experienced before, (including) Hezbollah and Hamas and their proxies in Iraq and Syria.”
More specifically, Hook said that that Iran aspires to do with the Houthis what they did with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“They have been able to lay some roots, shallow roots, in Yemen. Regularly, Iran threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz. Imagine if they were able to become a power broker in Yemen, they will then threaten to close the Bab al-Mandeb,” Hook told Al Arabiya English.
“We have to deny them this capability… It’s Iran with their Houthi partners that have been the biggest obstacle to the cause of peace in Yemen,” he added.
On the Iranian regime’s corruption, Hook described it as a “corrupt religious mafia that robs its own people blind in order to fund a violent ideology.” He stated that the average Lebanese Hezbollah fighter makes more than the average Iranian firefighter, because Iran provides 75 percent of Hezbollah’s budget every year, which amounts to $700 million according to him.
US President Donald Trump had ordered “hard-hitting” financial sanctions this week on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holding him “ultimately responsible” for Tehran’s destabilizing activities.
According to a Reuters investigation in 2013, Khamenei controls a business empire worth around $95 billion – a sum exceeding the value of his oil-rich nation’s current annual petroleum exports.
The little-known organization, called Setad, is one of the keys to the Iranian leader’s power and now holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming.
“The Supreme Leader has been able to enrich himself at the expense of the Iranian people. He has many billions of dollars through his Setad. It’s a slush fund, a hedge fund… this is a religious leader who has his own hedge fund, and that should tell you something about the corruption of this regime, it’s hypocrisy- that while his own are struggling, he’s running a hedge fund,” Hook said.
He added that through sanctions, the US has been able to reduce the funds Iran sends to its terrorist proxies.
Brian Hook is among the slew of US and global government officials and businessmen who are attending the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop in Bahrain, aimed at setting up a global investment fund to “lift the Palestinian and Arab state economies” and construct a $5 billion transportation corridor that would connect the West Bank with Gaza.