By Jubin Katiraie

The top United States official in charge of policy on Iran on Wednesday said the U.S. policy of maximum pressure was intended to “deprive the Iranian regime of the money it needs to support its destabilizing activities”.

Special Representative Brian H. Hook testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the main goal of the Trump administration is, “an unprecedented pressure campaign with two primary objectives: First, to deprive the Iranian regime of the money it needs to support its destabilizing activities.

Second, to bring Iran to the negotiating table to conclude a comprehensive deal, as outlined by Secretary Pompeo on May 2018.

He continued: “The comprehensive deal we seek with the Iranian regime should address four key areas: its nuclear program, its ballistic missile development and proliferation, its support to terrorist groups and proxies, and its arbitrary detention of U.S. citizens”.

“A year and a half ago, Secretary Pompeo laid out 12 points that expanded further on the kind of deal we are seeking with Iran.

The requirements Secretary Pompeo laid out reflect the scope of Iran’s malign behavior. It also reflects the longstanding global consensus as enshrined in multiple Security Council resolutions since Iran’s nuclear violations were first addressed by the Council in 2006.”

“We now have newly declassified information related to Iran’s missile program that I can share today:

  • While the United States was still in the JCPOA, Iran expanded its ballistic missile activities to partners across the region, including Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups, and Shia militias in Iraq.
  • Beginning last year, Iran transferred whole missiles to a separate designated terrorist group in the region.
  • Iran is continuing to develop missile systems and related technologies solely for export to its regional proxies.
  • And while we were in the JCPOA, Iran increased its support to Hizballah, helping them produce a greater number of rockets and missiles. This arsenal is then used to target our ally, Israel.”

“Iran, however, has responded to this policy with violence.

In recent months, Iran has launched a series of attacks in a panicked bid to intimidate the world into halting our pressure. Iran was responsible for the attacks at the Port of Fujairah, the assault on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the attack on Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq.”

Since March 2017 this was the first time that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a hearing on Iran.

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that the subject of the hearing is really of pressing national security importance, the relationship of the United States with Iran.

 The hearing was intended to do three things:

  • Consider the facts behind the maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
  • Examine the elements of Iran’s necessary behavioral changes.
  • Assess Iran’s willingness to behave as a responsible member of the international community.

Sen. Jim Risch: "Iran’s pursuit of regional domination following the 1979 revolution transformed the fabric of the Middle East. The Iranian regime dangerously catalyzed sectarian identities and weaponized sect and religion against its neighbors. The regime triggered a Sunni-Shia war that threatens to unravel the greater Middle East.

"The nuclear issue is but one aspect of the regime’s malign conduct. Indeed, one of the biggest criticisms I had of the JCPOA was that it addressed only the nuclear issue and not the many other troubling aspects of Iran’s behavior.

"Iran continues to threaten its neighbors with ballistic missiles, conducts criminal maritime activity in international waters, continues to unlawfully hold American citizens, and fuels dangerous proxy conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Iranian-sponsored precision-guided munitions are a threat aimed at the heart of Israel. Iran actively enables Assad’s continued butchery in Syria. Additionally, the regime is working to subvert several other regional governments below the level of armed conflict.

"Iran’s support to proxies is perhaps the most nefarious - ask any of our men and women in uniform who faced Iranian-provided roadside bombs in Iraq. Iran already has American blood on its hands. The lack of a more firm response by prior administrations has only encouraged further Iranian violence.

"Inside of its borders, the regime’s abuses against its own people continue to be a concern. Iranian citizens live under constant threat of arbitrary arrest and torture for expressing their most basic human rights including freedom of expression and religion.”