“If we let it expire, you can be certain that what Iran has been doing in the dark, it will do in broad daylight and then some,” Hook said.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hook’s remarks. However, President Hassan Rouhani described 2020 as Iran’s “most difficult year” on Sunday due to the U.S. economic pressure campaign and the coronavirus pandemic.
Hook made the comments while on a visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.S.-allied United Arab Emirates, as part of a Mideast tour. Hook met Saturday with Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and planned Sunday to meet with other officials. Hook declined to say where else he would travel on his trip.
Hook spoke to AP journalists in Dubai via videoconference as Abu Dhabi’s borders remain closed to the UAE’s six other sheikhdoms over the pandemic.
The United Nations banned Iran from buying major foreign weapon systems in 2010 amid tensions over its nuclear program. That blocked Iran from replacing its aging equipment, much of which had been purchased by the shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. An earlier embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.
If the embargo is lifted, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in 2019 that Iran likely would try to purchase Russian Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainer aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran also may try to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the DIA said.
Iran long has been outmatched by U.S.-backed Gulf nations like the UAE, which have purchased billions of dollars of advanced American weaponry. In response, Tehran turned toward developing ballistic missiles as a deterrent.
“If we play by Iran’s rules, Iran wins,” Hook said. “It is a mafia tactic where people are intimidated into accepting a certain kind of behavior for fear of something far worse.”
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