United States Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook briefed congressmen and answered questions Wednesday, June 19, regarding recent increases in tensions between Iran and the United States.
Hook stated that President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo want peace but will enter into discussions with Iran only when the United States feels that it is appropriate. He added that the focus of the administration is to bring benefit to the Iranian people.
“President Trump and Secretary Pompeo have expressed very clearly our willingness to negotiate with Iran when the time is right. No one should be uncertain about our desire for peace or our readiness to normalize relations should we reach a comprehensive deal. We have put the possibility of a much brighter future on the table for the Iranian people,” Hook said.
Last Thursday, Secretary of State Pompeo said Iran was responsible for attacks on two oil tankers earlier in the day near the Straight of Hormuz and that Iran had announced on April 22 that it would interrupt the flow of oil through the Straight of Hormuz.
The tankers targeted in the attacks reported no deaths or injuries but experienced explosive damage and fire.
Pompeo said Iran’s aggressions had been increasing and listed five separate attacks involving Iran or surrogates of Iran since May 12 of this year.
Hook, said that U.S. sanctions against Iran have been decreasing Iran’s ability to fund terrorism throughout the Middle East and that Iran will only negotiate when pressured.
“Our sanctions are working and they are denying the regime the revenue that it otherwise would spend … on Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Shia [Shiite] proxies in Syria, Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, underground groups in Bahrain. So, that’s a very good thing. It is also the case that Iran has never come to the negotiating table in its 40 year history without pressure,” said Hook.
An explosives expert with the U.S. Navy said Wednesday that the attack on one of the oil tankers last Thursday was caused by limpet mines attached to the ship, which bear a striking resemblance to explosive mines that have been displayed in Iranian military parades.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) unexpectedly began questioning the special envoy about the U.S. Constitution, demanding a yes or no response. Uncertain as to why he was being questioned about the Constitution, Hook stated that he was there to discuss Iran. Lieu abruptly ended his questioning and submitted the Constitution for the record.
“Mr. Hook, have you read the Constitution?” asked Lieu.
“I have read the Constitution,” responded Hook.
“OK, under the Constitution the Framers gave Congress the power to declare war. Correct? Just a yes or no,” said Lieu.
“This is … my understanding is that we’re here to talk about Iran foreign policy which I can,” replied Hook.
Lieu then said, “Mr. Chair, I’m going to stop this line of question. I’m going to submit the U.S. Constitution for the record.”