Brian Hook: US not seeking war with Iran, but ready to respond to any attacks

The United States is not seeking a war with Iran but said it stands ready to respond if Tehran mounts any attack on America, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told Al Arabiya on Wednesday.

“We are ready to restore diplomatic ties and welcome the country into the international community but the regime has got to change its behavior,” Hook said.

“We received some credible threats that suggested that Iran was going to take offensive actions against American interests and our allies and partners in the region and so we put in place defensive measures,” he said, referring to the movement of USS Abraham Lincoln and some bombers to the region.

Hook also said that if a new deal with Iran indeed happens, it will be presented to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. “My message to the Iranian regime is to start investing in your own people and end this policy of exporting revolution and destabilizing the Middle East,” he said.

On Iran’s announcement related to the resumption of enrichment of uranium, Hook said they have only announced their intent. “We will wait to see what they decide to do. We will study it very closely and I am confident we will make the right decision,” he said.

SPV and Europe

Earlier, in a telephonic press briefing on Wednesday, Hook said that the United States doesn’t see any corporate demand for a special purpose vehicle (SPV), a Europe-backed system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent US sanctions.

“Our sanctions give European countries a choice and it’s a choice they can freely make and they know this. They can either have access to the US markets and the US financial system or they can do business with Iran,” he said.

He said that the United States is aware that there is European interest in keeping the economic incentives going for Iran to stay in the deal. “But we are not in the deal anymore and so that is no longer a concern of ours. We are very much focused on the totality of threats that Iran presents,” he said.

He said that he is not entirely confident that this vehicle will ever get off the ground because there has to be a mirror image set up on the Iranian side of this and Iran doesn’t like to comply with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) because they have a financial sector that is deliberately dark.

“They do not want people to be able to follow the money. That’s why they don’t comply with FATF and that’s they have been disconnected from the SWIFT financial messaging system because they are not in compliance,” Hook said.

“They run a dark economy with the Revolutionary Guards controlling up to half of the economy. It’s the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. So I would question whether the regime ever decides that it wants to be that transparent and run an SPV”.

“If you look at total EU trade volumes, Iran isn’t even in the top 30. The EU does more trade with Kazakhstan than it does with Iran. It is just not a significant market and European corporations would much rather do business with the United States then do business with Iran,” he said.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:55 - GMT 06:55
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