New US Iran Policy Chief Lays Out Agenda

How US sanctions hit ordinary people in Iran

Hook said the United States wants to "promote a brighter future for the Iranian people", adding that the "Iran regime has been a force for instability and violence".

Pompeo announced the creation of the Iran Action Group on Thursday, telling reporters that the initiative would be "directing, reviewing and coordinating all aspects of the State Department's Iran-related activity". Trump said the deal did not do enough to curb what he and US allies have said are "malign" Iranian behaviors, such as its support for militant groups in the Middle East and development of ballistic missiles.

"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 of its borders". He added, "The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named Brian Hook as the new "special representative" for Iran, who will head up an 'Iran Action Group'.

Iran is extremely unlikely to take military action, while the U.S. believes time is in its favour as it increases pressure on Iran to see what concessions it can extract and how hard to push.

Hook cited Tehran's "aspiration for nuclear weapons" and support for terrorist activity.

Critics of the administration's approach suggested that Hook's new position was a sign the United States was adopting a policy of regime change in Iran, something that Pompeo and other officials have denied.

Hook, who served in a variety of roles during the George W. Bush administration including three months as assistant secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, has been director of policy planning and senior policy advisor to Pompeo since February 2017.

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From the USA perspective, the longer sanctions are applied, the greater the damage to Iran's economy and, therefore, the less ability Iran has to pursue activities the U.S. considers threatening, and the greater the perceived likelihood of government destabilisation.

In May, Pompeo outlined what many analysts saw as a policy of regime change in everything but name - saying the United States will aim to "crush" Iran with economic and military pressure unless it changes its behavior in the Middle East.

Asked by a reporter if his call for an Iranian commitment to change behavior represented a condition for engaging in dialogue, Hook said the president's offer of talks and the USA maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran were "parallel tracks" of the Trump administration's policy.

The Trump administration's exit from the Iran deal is also creating internal divisions within Iran's leadership.

It has also told businesses and governments in Europe that they may also be subject to penalties if they violate, ignore or attempt to subvert the re-imposed USA sanctions.

Hook also said Thursday that the U.S. is willing to impose secondary sanctions on governments that continue to deal with Iran.

"To the regime, prosperity, security and freedom for the Iranian people are acceptable casualties in the march to fulfill the revolution", Pompeo said at the time. "THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S.", Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted.

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