Dubai: In an interview with Bahrain News Agency, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Peek affirmed Washington’s commitment to crack down Iran’s increasingly malign activities in the region.
Peek said the US was working with its Gulf allies to bring Iran to the bargaining table, halt its support of military proxies and terrorism as well as the proliferation of missiles.
“The discussion in particular highlighted the ways in which Iran attempts to destabilise and provoke conflict in Bahrain through proxies that have their headquarters abroad, other key personnel abroad, and that work to cause cleavages in Bahraini society,” he told BNA during a brief visit in Bahrain as part of his regional tour.
In May, US President Donald Trump announced the US was withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran, which would see the relaxation of sanctions against it in exchange for a reduction in its enrichment of nuclear energy.
“Since then, we have been on an intense diplomatic engagement with our allies and partners to both explain our strategy and to win their support for it,” he said.
“One of the problems of the nuclear deal was that we were effectively prevented from sanctioning key individuals, key networks, because either their sanctions had been lifted pursuant to the nuclear deal and thus we could not re-sanction them because of their ties to terrorism – for example the Iranian Central Bank – but also that when we look at activities like Iranian disruption of Bahrain and Iranian attitudes towards Bahrain, we could not impose strategic economic sanctions sufficient enough to cause the Iranians to have to choose: you could either do your malign regional activities or you can have a healthy, thriving economy, but you can’t have both.”
“So we discussed the challenges Iran was posing, and then agreed on how to move forward in countering that,” he said, adding that Gulf countries have been extremely supportive and helpful in achieving this aim.
Gulf countries have long accused Iran of meddling in the domestic affairs of regional countries.
Saudi Arabia, along with a coalition of Arab states has been fighting against Iranian-backed Al Houthis in Yemen for three years.
Iran also has proxies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and has fomenting sectarian strife in several Gulf countries.
Trump has never hidden his distaste for the Iran nuclear deal, which he has referred to as the “worst deal ever”.
At the same time, he has expressed a willingness to work to improve the arrangement. He has particularly objected the accord’s sunset clause, which allows Iran to resume part of its nuclear programme after 2025.