On August 16th, the US State Department in the face of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the forming of an Iran Action Group (IAG).
The first step will include the appointment of a special representative for Iran to coordinate the US policy, while the Trump Administration aims to increase the pressure on Tehran after the May 8th US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Brian Hook, who is currently the State Department’s director of policy planning with head the new IAG and will coordinate actions between the various US agencies.
“We’re committed to a whole-government effort to change the Iranian regime’s behavior, and the Iran Action group will ensure that the State Department remains closely synchronized with our interagency partners,” Pompeo commented.
He also added that the IAG will coordinate policy with the “growing” number of nations that share the US standing towards “the Iranian threat.”
“Our hope is that one day soon we can reach an agreement with Iran, but we must see major changes in the regime both inside and outside of its borders,” Mike Pompeo said. “The Iranian people and the world are demanding that Iran finally act like a normal nation. The Iran Action Group will drive daily progress on these objectives, and I hope do much more,” he added.
Sputnik cited, Brian Hook who commented that the IAG would address all forms of the Iranian threat, which has been a force of instability and violence. “When you look at the range of Iranian threats, especially around missiles and cyber, maritime aggression, terrorism, these are concerns of other nations. The United States is not alone in that regard. And I find that when we sit down and talk with other nations, there are shared interests that we’re able to pursue, and we’ll continue doing it,” Hook added.
Since withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal, the US has reimposed sanctions that were eased under the deal and has steadily increased pressure on Iran. The unilateral move to withdrawl from the deal has been opposed by other signatories to the agreement, which have pledged their commitment to the deal.
To further deepen the worsening of Iran-US relations, on August 6th the first batch of sanctions were reimposed. They target Iran’s purchase of US dollar banknotes, trade in gold and other metals and transactions involving the national currency.
The second batch is to be introduced on November 4th and in they target Iran’s oil exports and energy sector. Something for which Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz among other retaliations.
As a response to the sanctions, the EU activated its Blocking Statute, prohibiting European companies from the application of sanctions by a third country, exempting the EU companies from complying with the US sanctions on Iran.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has ordered Iran to prepare to build up the country’s enrichment capacity in case the nuclear deal falls apart.
Critics of the administration’s approach suggested that Hook’s new position was a sign the US was adopting a regime-change policy in Iran, something that Pompeo and other officials formally deny. The Trump administration claims it is only interested in a direction change, not a government change in Iran.
Pompeo’s announcement as reported by PressTV, coincides with the 65th anniversary of the CIA coup against Mossadegh. The 1953 United States covert action overthrew Mossadegh in favor of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953. Hook, however, commented that the forming of the action group being on the day of the coup was “pure coincidence.”