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Iran is ‘principle driver of instability’ in Middle East, says US envoy Brian Hook

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Iran is the “principle driver of instability in today’s Middle East,” US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said at a press conference on Monday.

The Iranian regime has continued to spend funds on supporting its proxies in other countries and has provided them with missiles and rockets to carry out attacks, Hook said during a virtual press conference from Kuwait.

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Iran extends its influence in countries across the Middle East by funding, training, and providing military equipment to its proxy groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

“When you look at what Iran has done, they have the largest missile inventory of any country….they move out missiles and rockets to their proxies. They organize, train and equip these various non-state actors and militias. And that that inflicts a very heavy toll of death and bloodshed in the Middle East,” according to the US representative.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told Al Arabiya English in November that the “centerpiece” of the Iranian military is its collection of approximately 3,000 ballistic missiles of various ranges.

Iran’s foreign policy is why the UN arms embargo – which is set to expire on October 18 - is important, Hook suggested.

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“As you go around the world, no one wants the Iranian regime to acquire a nuclear weapon. Nobody wants Iran to be a constant war with its neighbors. Iran likes to play the role of arsonist and fireman,” he said.

“Iranian people are tired of seeing their national wealth export into proxies. In Syria alone since 2013, the Iranian regime has spent over $10 billion. Imagine if only 5 percent of that was spent on a better healthcare system, it might not be having such enormous challenges with the pandemic,” Hook added.

So far, Iran has confirmed 293,606 coronavirus infections and 15,912 deaths, though many experts believe the numbers are much higher than officials report.