US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook
US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook Reuters

The Trump administration on Monday urged Europe to impose tough new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook rejected Iran’s insistence that its missile program is defensive.

He told reporters traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday that Iran’s continued missile development and testing is a threat to the region and beyond and in defiance of UN Security Council demands.

Hook said US discussions with the Europeans about missile sanctions are gaining traction. Those talks center on slapping penalties on companies and people involved in Iran’s program.

“It is a grave and escalating threat and nations around the world, not just Europe, need to do everything they can to be targeting Iran’s missile program,” Hook said.

His comments came as Pompeo met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Brussels on Monday night. Pompeo also plans to talk about Iran when he meets his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany on Tuesday while he is in Belgium for a meeting of NATO counterparts, according to AP.

On Saturday, Pompeo said that Tehran had tested a new missile capable of carrying multiple warheads in violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

A day later, Iran made clear that it would continue its missile tests to build up its defenses and once again denied this was in breach of UN resolutions.

When US President Donald Trump left the 2015 nuclear deal last May, he cited the agreement’s failure to deal with Iran’s ballistic missile program as one of the reasons for withdrawing.

The European signatories to the 2015 deal did not agree with Trump’s decision to leave the agreement and have been trying to save the accord. However, they have in the past showed an openness to sanctioning Iran over its ballistic missiles program.