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US wants new deal with Iran

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The US wants to negotiate a comprehensive treaty with Iran as part of a new approach by the Trump administration.

US State Department’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, spoke at the Husdon Institute yesterday and said “the new deal that we hope to be able to sign with Iran … will not be a personal agreement between two governments like the last one [JCPOA nuclear deal], we seek a treaty”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed a dozen demands in May that he said could form part of a new agreement with Iran, which included rolling back its ballistic missile programme and ending financial and logistical support for proxies in Syria and Yemen. Yesterday’s speech by Hook suggests that a wide ranging treaty, needing US Senate approval, appears to be a new focus.

Hook said Iran posed an international threat to peace and security that went beyond the six major powers that signed the JCPOA nuclear deal. “If we want to have a stable and prosperous Middle East it starts with constraining Iran.”

Speaking about the nuclear deal, Hook said: “They [the Obama administration] did not have the votes in the US Senate so they found the votes in the UN Security Council. That is insufficient in our system of government if you want to have something enduring and sustainable.”

Hook confirmed reports that Iran has rejected US attempts to hold high-level talks since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal earlier this year. He said such a refusal does not change US plans: “We have a sanctions regime that is underway, stronger measures are yet to come.” The US is increasing diplomatic efforts to drastically reduce the purchase of Iranian crude oil by 4 November, when Washington re-imposes oil sanctions against Tehran.

Next week President Trump will chair a UN Security Council session on Iran during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. The US has also formed an Iran Action Group, led by Hook, to coordinate US policy.