Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of a task force to coordinate the Trump administration’s response to Iran, CNN reported Thursday.
In his statement Pompeo explained, “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 also introduced Brian Hook, who had been Director of Policy Planning of the State Department since February of 2017, to lead the task force, called the Iran Action Group (IAG), who will take on the title of Special Representative for Iran.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told CNN that the formation of the IAG “is further evidence that the Trump administration sees Iran as one of its top foreign policy and national security priorities.” He added, “The group will be empowered to leverage all instruments of national power to squeeze the regime in Iran.”
According to Dubowitz, the formation of the IAG, which will be headed by one of Pompeo’s “most trusted advisers,” serves as a “rebuke” to Iran’s leaders, who are hoping “that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, too preoccupied with domestic politics to pay much attention to Iran.” Instead the IAG “will bring all of the US government’s resources to bear on softening up the Islamic Republic.”
In a press briefing following his introduction, Hook confirmed that the goal of the administration is to change Iran’s behavior.
“If the Iranian regime demonstrates a commitment to make fundamental changes in its behavior, then the President is prepared to engage in dialogue in order to find solutions. But the sanctions relief, the reestablishment of full diplomatic and commercial relations with the United States, and economic cooperation with the United States can only begin after we see that the Iranian regime is serious about changing its behavior,” he said.
Hook explained further that the purpose of the renewed sanctions was to deprive Iran of the means to finance terror, “when you look at the kind of money that Iran provides to Assad and to Shia militias, to Lebanese Hizballah, it’s billions and billions of dollars. And we need to get at drying up those revenue streams. And so that is the purpose of our maximum economic pressure campaign.”
[Photo: U.S. Department of State / YouTube ]