US Special Representative to Iran Brian Hook held a telephone press briefing on Thursday before emergency summits of Arab leaders in Saudia Arabia about the drone strikes on oil sites and four vessels, including two oil tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month. Hook addressed the strikes as well as the success of US sanctions in weakening Iran and its proxies.
Hook said that the US will respond with military force if it or its interests are attacked by Iran. Iran has denied responsibility for the attacks.
When questioned about Iran's shipment of weapons to Hezbollah, Hook said, "Hezbollah has been Iran's favorite son from the beginning and it's a model that they try to replicate around the Middle East. We've been doing our best to deter any shipment of weapons or illegal goods. What we've been very pleased with is the fact that Hezbollah is struggling financially - 70% of Hezbollah's budget comes from Iran. We know that for the first time in their history, Hezbollah had to make a public appeal for donations. Today you can find piggy banks in grocery stores, billboards with signs with phone numbers to send money. These are not signs of an organization in strong financial health. There was a story in The New York Times in March and an article in The Washington Post recently documenting all the ways that Hezbollah is struggling due to our sanctions. We're very pleased with this and our goal is to continue as long as possible."
Hook emphasized that absolutely no more waivers will be granted to any country to import oil from Iran. "We have 11 countries who used to import Iranian oil who are now down to zero. This is 40% of the regime's revenue. If we want to get serious about denying Iran the money it needs to destabilize the Middle East we have to enforce oil sanctions. We think that all countries in the world share a desire for a more peaceful Middle East. As long as Iran is able to conduct its foreign policy with impunity fueled by oil revenue it will be unstable."