WASHINGTON — Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s top diplomat for Iran, is stepping down from his post as Washington tries to reign in Tehran with it’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
“Special Representative Hook has been my point person on Iran for over two years and he has achieved historic results countering the Iranian regime,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Thursday statement. “He has been a trusted advisor to me and a good friend. I thank him for his service,” Pompeo added without giving a reason for Hook’s departure.
Pompeo said that Hook will be succeeded by Elliott Abrams, an Iran hard-liner who is currently the State Department’s special representative for Venezuela. It was also not immediately clear when Hook would leave his role.
The latest revelation comes at a critical time for U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared after Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.
Next week, the United Nations Security Council will vote on whether global powers should extend an international arms embargo on Iran. The arms embargo on Iran is currently set to end on Oct. 18 under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The 2015 nuclear agreement lifted sanctions on Iran that crippled its economy and cut its oil exports roughly in half. In exchange for sanctions relief, Iran accepted limits on its nuclear program and allowed international inspectors into its facilities. Tehran has said it will not negotiate with Washington while sanctions are in place.