Dubai - Criticising Iran’s threats to limit navigation in the Starit of Hormuz, a senior US official has said that Tehran’s threats to shipping amounted to threats to the world. US Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook said during a telephonic press conference that European and Asian consumers would be most impacted. “Sixty per cent of the oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz is destined for Asian markets. [We must get serious about] enhancing maritime security,” Hook said. “I think the question people should be asking is ... why Iran continues to reject diplomacy.”

He said US President Donald Trump is ready to talk to Iran about a deal that would lift American sanctions but Tehran would need to curtain its nuclear and missile programme, as well as its support for proxies. Washington, he said, was seeking a treaty that would be ratified by the US Congress, saying the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers was flawed because it had no legal basis.

Hook, who accused Iran of “violent responses to diplomatic pressure”, said Iran could come to the negotiating table or watch its economy “continue to crumble”. “They are in a recession now, it is going to get significantly worse,” he said ahead of an expected announcement later on Monday on further US sanctions. He refused to divulge details about these sanctions, saying “we won’t preview our sanctions”.

He said that America’s existing sanctions on Iran were already bearing fruit. “There have been extensive stories documenting how Iran’s proxies are suffering without money. The ...kleptocratic regime...[is falling short] of money to spend on proxies.”

Hook said elements of a deal with Tehran would need to involve an end to the arrest of dual nationals in Iran and an end to support for what he said were Iranian proxies in the Middle East who committed clandestine attacks on Iran’s behalf. He said there was no diplomatic contact, or back channel, between Washington and Tehran at present.