Pompeo establishes Iran Action Group

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo names senior policy adviser Brian Hook to coordinate State Department’s pressure campaign on Iran.

Elad Benari ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as Washington’s special representative for Iran, Reuters reported.

Hook will lead a newly established Iran Action Group to coordinate the State Department’s pressure campaign on Iran, Pompeo was quoted as having told a news conference.

Hook, who has pushed for tough action against Iran, has been leading the department’s talks with allies in Europe and Asia to persuade them to support U.S. sanctions and cut off Iran’s oil supplies as of November.

“The Iran Action Group will be responsible for directing, reviewing and coordinating all aspects of the State Department’s Iran-related activity, and will report directly to me,” Pompeo said, according to Reuters.

“We are committed to a whole-of-government effort to change the Iranian regime’s behavior, and the Iran Action Group will ensure that the Department of State remains closely synchronized with our interagency partners,” he added.

The move comes as the Trump administration prepares to increase economic pressure on Iran by restoring sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In May, President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal, which he opposes and has described as “the worst deal ever negotiated”.

Following the withdrawal from the deal, Trump signed an executive order officially reinstating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The sanctions target Iran's access to American dollars and steel and automobile industries, ban trade with Iran in gold and other precious metals, and include other sanctions which were lifted under the 2015 deal.

Additional sanctions will be imposed on November 4, targeting Iran's oil and shipping industries.

Recent reports said the White House had launched a campaign to pressure Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and support of terrorist organizations.

The campaign is reportedly supported by Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, though the White House and the State Department both declined to comment.

Trump has said he would be willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and discuss a new, tougher agreement, but Iran has refused the gesture.