US envoy calls on world to ‘urge Iran to de-escalate’ - GulfToday

US envoy calls on world to ‘urge Iran to de-escalate’


Brian Hook speaks during a press conference in Kuwait City on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

The US special envoy for Iran on Sunday urged “all nations to use their diplomatic effort to urge Iran to de-escalate and meet diplomacy with diplomacy.”

“We are not interested in military conflict against Iran, we have enhanced our forces’ postures in the region for purely defensive purposes,” Brian Hook told journalists in Kuwait City.

Hook said his talks in Kuwait focused “how to de-escalate tensions that in the region have been driven by Iran and we discussed how we can deepen our cooperation especially around the area of maritime security.”

“The Iranian regime is a threat to freedom of navigation and all nations of the world share an interest in the free flow of commerce and there is much work to be done together,” he said.

“We need Iran to behave more like a normal nation and less like a revolutionary cause. And if we can imagine a peaceful Iran, then we can imagine a peaceful Middle East,” he added.

On Friday in Saudi Arabia, the US envoy said Iran has no right to respond to diplomacy “with military force”, a day after Tehran shot down a US reconnaissance drone over the Strait of Hormuz -- a strategic waterway for the world’s oil transits.

In mid-June the United States said it would deploy 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, after a series of tanker attacks in the Gulf it has blamed on Iran despite Tehran’s denials of involvement.

The US moves came as Iran set a 10-day countdown for world powers to fulfil their commitments under a nuclear deal abandoned by Washington, saying it would otherwise surpass the uranium stockpile limit mandated by the accord.

Separately, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that Iran should not “mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness.”

“No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday our military is rebuilt, new and ready to go,” Bolton said in occupied Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, himself a vocal critic of Iran over the years.

“And as he made clear yesterday, referring to his earlier remarks, the president said, ‘I just stopped the strike from going forward at this time,’” Bolton added. Netanyahu said Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region had increased as a result of the nuclear deal, which gave the country a new cash infusion, and had nothing to do with the US exit from the agreement.

“After the deal, but before recent events, Iran has been on a campaign of aggression,” he said. “Those who describe the recent actions as somehow opening a hornet’s nest are living on another planet.”

US military cyber forces on Thursday launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems, according to US officials.

The cyberattacks disabled Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said.

Separately, a top Iranian diplomat expressed disappointment on Sunday after meeting a minister from Britain’s Foreign Office amid escalating regional tensions, saying the talks were “repetitive,” state news agency IRNA reported.

Minister of State for the Middle East Andrew Murrison had the “usual talking points,” said Kamal Kharazi, the head of the Strategic Council of Foreign Relations at Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

These included saying a European payment mechanism to help Iran with US sanctions “will soon become operational, that Britain has always supported the JCPOA and has its own problems with America such talks that have always been repetitive,” Kharazi added.

Murrison was expected to meet deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi later on Sunday.

Murrison was to call for an “urgent de-escalation” and raise British concerns “about Iran’s regional conduct and its threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal,” according to a statement by Britain’s Foreign Office.

Kharazi warned on Sunday that European powers must realise Iran is “serious” about its decision and that “in two weeks it will take new steps” to scale down nuclear commitments.

Britain is a signatory to the 2015 nuclear deal which saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran’s atomic energy agency said on Monday that it would soon pass the amount of low-enriched uranium allowed under the nuclear deal.