Mike Pompeo launches Iran Action Group after nuclear deal withdrawal

WATCH: Mike Pompeo launches Iran Action Group after nuclear deal withdrawal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is forming a dedicated group to coordinate and run USA policy toward Iran as the Trump administration moves ahead with efforts to force changes in the Islamic Republic's behavior after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

Hook is one of the top policy advisers within the State Department, and before the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal he had been advising the administration to work on getting addendum to the nuclear deal as opposed to withdrawing. US President Donald Trump pulled out of an worldwide nuclear deal with Iran in May and has directed his administration to apply "maximum economic pressure" on the country to change its behavior. Brian Hook spoke Thursday after his appointment as USA special representative for Iran.

"This team is committed to a strong global effort to change the Iranian regime's behavior", Hook said.

"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. "But we must see major changes in the regime's behavior both inside and outside its borders". The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, and reimposed sanctions, has already impacted the Iranian economy.

The Iran nuclear deal was signed between six countries in 2015 - Iran, US, Britain, Germany, Russia, France and China for lifting economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limitations to the country's nuclear programme.

Trump later offered to speak with Iranian leaders without preconditions in the hope of securing a new U.S.

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Pompeo further said that the goal of these sanctions was to get Iran to stop supporting the ill- governance and uprisings in the Middle-East, adding that "enormous change" was required by the Iranian government to break free of the USA sanctions.

Hook said the goal of his division will be to execute Trump's Iran strategy to protect the security of the United States and its allies and to "promote a brighter future for the Iranian people". In November, a second round of "snap-back" sanctions will inflict far more pain on Iran by prohibiting all other countries from buying its oil, at the risk of being sanctioned themselves by the United States.

The secretary of state and former Central Intelligence Agency director also accused several members of Iran's leadership, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, of participating in widespread corruption. "The Islamic Republic can negotiate with America whenever it achieves the power to resist America's pressure and blackmail", the Ayatollah said.

When AP's Matt Lee noted that the announcement of the Iran Action Group is taking place on the anniversary of the 1953 US-backed coup, and asked if this suggested "regime change", Hook responded that the timing is "pure coincidence" and that the IAG is aimed at "changing the Iranian regime's behavior".

He added that "there have been White House czars before, study groups, as well as unconfirmed reports about Secretary Pompeo having a similar group to deal with the North Korea problem set in his previous government position [as Central Intelligence Agency director]".

Hook, who was a close adviser to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, worked with U.S. national security advisor John Bolton on Iran sanctions while Bolton was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Republican President George W. Bush.


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