US sanctions policy on Iran more effective than 2015 nuclear deal: official

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BRUSSELS: The United States’ sanctions policy on Iran is a more effective non-proliferation tool to force Tehran to negotiate a broader deal than the 2015 nuclear deal, U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Friday.

“Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon, it would be catastrophic for the Middle East,” Hook told reporters in a conference call. “Now that we are outside of the Iran nuclear deal, we are in a much better position to deny Iran a nuclear weapon.

“It allows us to then forcibly respond to Iran’s regional aggression and that is what we have done with our sanctions,” Hook said.

The targets of the sanctions included Iran’s manufacturing, mining and textile sectors, as well as senior Iranian officials who Washington said, were involved in the Jan. 8 attacks on military bases housing U.S. troops.

Fears that the United States and Iran were heading for war flared over the past week after a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, spurring Iran’s retaliatory strike on facilities in Iraq hosting U.S. forces.

No one was harmed in the Iranian ballistic missile attacks and the two sides seem to have stepped back from the brink of all-out conflict. President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to impose the additional sanctions, the most concrete U.S. response yet to the attacks.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor Barack Obama and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.

Those U.S. sanctions have driven down Iranian crude sales, the Islamic Republic’s main source of revenues, but so far have not brought Iran back to the negotiating table to discuss a new nuclear pact as sought by Trump.

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