tv U.S. Special Rep. for Iran Brian Hook at Senate Foreign Relations Committee CSPAN October 16, 2019 10:00am-11:30am EDT
we're just not seeing it right now. >> first of all, i'd like to thank very much the secretary shriver for taking time out of his day and coming to spend about an hour with us. we're thinking everyone at c span for watching us. we're going to break for a few minutes. let's give secretary shriver a big round of applause and thank him. [ applause ] we'll take a short break while the next panel comes up. we're live this morning on capitol hill where u.s. special representative for iran, brian hook, will update members of the senate foreign relations committee on u.s. policy toward iran. this is live coverage on cspan 3. we do expect this to begin shortly.
the foreign relations committee of the united states senate will come to order. the chair would note we have a full house today and an enthusiastic audience i'm sure. we'd ask you to be respectful. remind everyone that holding up signs or making verbal outbursts during the proceedings is disruptive. and appropriate action will be
taken. if needed we'll suspend briefly to restore order. this morning we have a hearing on a matter that is really of a pressing national security importance. that is the relationship of the united states and for that matter the world with iran. this hearing is intended to do three things. number one, we will consider the facts behind the maximum pressure campaign against iran. we'll examine the elements of iran's necessary behavioral changes. and thirdly, assess iran's willingness to behave as a responsible member of the international community. iran's pursuit of regional domination following the 1979 revolution transformed the fabric of the middle east. the iranian regime dangerously catalyzed secretarian identities and weaponized sect and religion
against its neighbors. triggered a sunni shia war. the nuclear issue is but one aspect of the regime's maligned conduct. indeed, one of the biggest criticisms i had of the jcpoa was that it addressed only the nuclear issue and not the many other troubling aspects of iran's behavior. iran continues to threaten its neighbors with ballistic missiles, conduct criminal maritime activity in international waters, continues to unlawfully hold american citizens and fuels dangerous proxy conflicts. munitions are a threat aimed at the heart of israel. iran actively enabled assad's continued butchery in syria. noil the regime is working to subvert several of the regional governments.
iran's supported proxies is perhaps the most nefarrioiousne. iran already has american blood on its hands. the lack of more firm response by prior administrations has only encouraged further iranian violence. inside of its borders the regime's abuses against its own people continue to be a concern. iranian citizens live under constant threat of arbitrary arrest and torture for expressing their most basically rights. despite the claims of religious freedom freedoms. that brings to the question to the most appropriate policies to curb the totality of iranian behavior. it's my assessment that the maximum pressure campaign against iran is working, they can serve as the bridge to more meaningful negotiations.
i note that some of my colleagues have earargued publi it's not that the pressure campaign is not working. i'd be the first to concede the campaign has not achieved its goals. but on the other hand, it is clearly working. since may of last year, sanctions have denied the regime over $25 billion in oil revenue. the administration estimates it will cost the regime as much as $50 billion annually. the iranian economy faces unprecedented strain after nearly 30 rounds of targeted sanctions, inflation is at 50% in iran and climbing. their economy is shrinking at a rate that should alarm tehran. a 6% reduction in gdp for 2019 is estimated. in my judgment, these are clear indications and clear evidence that, indeed, the sanctions are working.
for the first time iran's terror proxies and seen a reduction in funding. hezbollah has been reduced to pan handling for donations. iran's proxies are feeling the pinch. that are either going without pay or forced to undergoosi o austerity measures to survive. iran's requests for total sanctions relief in order to can come to the table should be and is a non-starter. the regime must demonstrate it's willing to negotiate in good faith or face continued pressure. the pressure must have an international face. for too long our european friends have sought to preserve a nuclear deal that offered iran an escape hatch to continue to destable the region. we've had numerous conversations with our european friends
regarding that. apart from rightly identifying iran as the culprit, our partners stress the importance of addressing regional security issues as well as the nuclear question. this is well received by us. but they must go further than that. our partners must follow the united states lead and enforce changes on iran's part. the deal was a poor one. one that only partly addressed the nuclear issue, and importantly very importantly, ignored the rest of iran's terrorist conduct and enriched the regime's illicit terrorist proxies. any new deal must address all aspects p curbing the ballistic missile program, insuring freedom of navigation. any iranian adventurism and the
regime's efforts to undermine governments and promote civil war in addition to the nuclear issue. it should not delay development of a weapon, or sunset in a matter that allows scientists to sprint to the finish line. it's in the u.s.' vital security interest, and indeed the interest of the entire world that iran never possess a nuclear weapon. finally, a topic is emerging in public discourse that should be addressed. there are many that blame the u.s. diplomatic efforts as the root cause of iran's acts of violence. to you i say you could not be more wrong. there is only one party to blame for iran's acts of violence, and that is the iranian regime. there's only one back actor here, the iranian regime. they are feeling the weight of the growing community against them. absent an attack on americans or american assets abroad, we
should not be moved by iranian outbursts or attacks on shipping. we should remain steadfast and continue to apply pressure until the regime -- excuse me. we should continue to apply pressure until the regime capi t capitulates and changes everybod everybody abehavior and they will. it's long since they act as a responsible actor that all peace loving nations on the planet take delight in. otherwise it will remain a pariah state. this is an important issue and i'm glad we've had the atte attendance we have today to examine that issue. with that, i'll recognize senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this important hearing. before i get to the hearing, i just want to urge the chair
global events come at us fast and furiously. this committee historically has played a role in fashioning the u.s. foreign policy. as we face the challenges in ukraine and syria, i hope that the chairman -- i know that the committee democrats have written to the chair asking him for a hearing on ukraine. i think that would be echoed on syria. these are vitally important issues in terms of the foreign policy of the united states. the role that russia is playing, iran is hope. i certainly hope that the chair will honor those requests and hold a hearing on both those issues as expeditiously as possible. this committee has not had a hearing on iran since march of 2017. more than two and a half years
ago which is unfortunate because it's been one of the administration's biggest stated priorities and one in which i believe there is at least a basis of bipartisan consensus from which we could work. there is no doubt that an iranian enabled nuclear state would pose a serious threat to the united states and its allies. there is equal agreement that iranian activity throughout the middle east including through proxies and terrorist organizations is ongoing, dangerous and destabilizing. there is, i believe, also widespread agreement that the united states should utilize strategic diplomacy, including sanctions with our international partners and allies to most effectively counter iran. as everyone i think on this committee knows, i did not support the joint comprehensive action. and when the trump administration withdrew, i worried this would put our nation on a dangerous and lonely path that would ultimately leave iran emboldened.
mr. hook, i'm afraid to say i think i was right. yes, the iranian regime seems starved of some financial resources. but as far as i can tell, that's all. it would appear that beyond sanctions our maximum pressure campaign only extends to sending american troops to protect saudi arabia. in fact, the rest of the administration's policies across the middle east seem only to have emboldened iran. harden its political supporters from hezbollah to militias in iraq and most devastatingly help entrench itself in basher al assad's syria. on the nuclear front, it warned it would, iran is now slowly winding down the nuclear restrictions, the jcpoa enclosed putting it closer to weaponization. iran has pursued this for more than 40 years. frankly i couldn't agree more. but i don't see your policies
meani meaningfully changing that behavior. you said the two goals of the maximum pressure campaign are to deprive the iranian regime of money to stop its malign activity and to bring iran back to the negotiating table. however, application of this policy is confusing. one minute the president is willing to make a deal, the next he is threatening to wipe out the iranian economy. you have utilized just about every sanctions authority available to you, but sanctions are only a viable tool if they're consistent. for example, a man was arrested in 2016 in connection with one of the largest iran sanctions evasions schemes in history. however, while his criminal case was ongoing, we recently learned that the president and his personal attorney, rudy guiliani were trying to get him freed from prison. i understand you're at least aware of these efforts. what does that say about the
viability of american sanctions? or this maximum pressure campaign? the iranians are holding out because they believe for now they can. they will not come to the table for a kim jong-un-like photo off. my fundamental question for you, mr. hook, is where are you on the harder diplomatic part of this campaign. how have you utilized the pressure to get iran to a negotiating table? i also would like to live in a world where we could sanction iran into stopping its support for terrorism. treating its own people with dignity and respect and to releasing all unjustly detained americans, including a princeton university student. but i live in the real world where i know that in order to make a delia haal you have to g something to get something. now seems like the ideal time to harni harness the pressures you created.
whether you have any sense of what the iranians will seek in relief from the united states. i'd like to know whether you have indirectly or directly or through back channels or other countries, sought to engage iran in that regard. so mr. hook, let's use our diplomatic tools as leverage for what we should be trying to achieve, a negotiated agreement with iran, with buy in from our international partners to meaningfully constrain its nuclear program and address other malign activity. a deal that includes permanent and long term restrictions on iran's nuclear capacity. tackles its ballistic missile proliferation and one that addresses regional support for terrorism including through the transfers of weapons. i look forward to hearing about your progress to address this ongoing national security priority. >> thank you, senator menmendem.
this hearing on iran is important. and i think probably one of the most pressing issues facing the united states, because i think it's the issue that has the most potential for having miscalculation by the other side in winding up with a situation that we really don't want to be in. i think that potential is there, more so with this regime than any other regime on the planet. i agree with you 100% this committee has historically played an important role in foreign policy. it continues to do so. i note that members of this committee are very active in public making statements, stating their opinions, giving advice to the administration both to the state department and the white house. members of the committee regularly i know communicate with the state department and with the white house. and we will, of course, continue to do that.
i want to address briefly. you mentioned i received a letter from you and members of the minority committee wanting certain hearings scheduled. i've taken it under advisement. i'll doing some foundational work on that. i want to talk -- i've talked would most members of the committee, not all, but almost all. i want to talk with other interested parties before i respond to that and i will respond to that in writing, just as you did. lastly, i want to correct you respectfully regarding your criticism of the administration's withdrawal from the jcpoa. you indicated that you supported the withdrawal, or i guess you didn't support the jcpoa. i don't recall whether or not you urged the withdrawal. i do support the withdrawal. the strategy was to go back to
the maximum pressure campaign that was in place. it wasn't called the maximum pressure campaign but it was the same thing. i agreed with that at that time. what i disagreed with was to sit down and start negotiating when they weren't at a point where they had to negotiate. at the present time, we have a maximum pressure campaign. i reiterated the things i think are pressuring the country. i suspect mr. hook will talk about that quite a been more. my urging is that we stay with the strategy we have, it clear strategy we've had since we withdrew from the jcpoa. that's continued to exert maximum pressure on the regime until they capitulate. they'll have to. with all that thank you, we have the honorable brian hook, advisor to the secretary of
state, a special respective, he leads the iran action group which is responsibility for directing, reviewing and coordinating all iran related activity within the u.s. state department. we couldn't have a better witness or a more informed witness or more confident witness to address these issues before the committee. on a personal note i've had the good fortune to talk to mr. hook on many, many occasions about these issues and consult with him on these issues. i find him to be receptive. i find him to be well-informed and acting in the best faith and best interest of the united states as we move forward. and so with that, mr. hook, the floor is yours. >> thank you, chairman, thank you for your very kind words. i would also like to thank ranking member menendez for his opening statement and distinguished members of the committee. i appeared before this committee a number of times. mostly been in private. so i'm very happy to have an opportunity to have a discussion
on iran in the public setting. i have a longer prepared statement i've submitted. why don't i go over some parts of that submitted statement. we have implemented an unprecedented pressure campaign. one is to deny the regime the revenue it needs to fund a revolutionary and expansionist foreign policy. the other one is to increase the incentives for iran to come to the negotiating table. if you look at the history, 40 year history the united states has had with this nation, you see a consistent pattern that you need to have either economic pressure, diplomatic isolation or the threat of military force. it's one or more of these factors or what informed iran's decision making calculus. we have kept our foreign policy
squarely within the left right limits of economic pressure and diplomatic isolation. the president has also repeatedly expressed the united states' willingness to negotiate with iran. and we're willing to meet with the iranians without preconditions. we are seeking a comprehensive deal. it needs to address four areas. it needs to address in a comprehensive way the threats that iran present to international peace and security. and that the their nuclear program, their missile program, its support to terrorist groups and proxies and its 40 year history of hostage taking. this includes the arbitrary detention of u.s. citizens. before we exited the deal, and reimposed sanction and
accelerated our pressure iran was increasing the scope of its malign activity. we now have newly declassified information relating to iran's missile program i can share today. while the united states was still in the jcpoa, iran extended its support to terrorist groups. beginning last year, iran transferred whole missiles to a separate designated terrorist group in the region. iran is continuing to develop missile systems and technologies solely for export to regional proxies. while we were in the jcpoa, iran increased support to hezbollah, helping them produce a greater number of rockets and missiles. this arsenal is used to target our ally, israel. beyond continuing advancements to its missile program, iran was deepening its engagement in
regional complicates. also, under the nuclear deal, iran was give an clear pathway to import and export dangerous weapons. two days from now on october 18th. we'll be exactly one year away from the the expiration of the united nations arms embargo on iran. because of the iran nuclear deal, countries like russia and china will soon be able to sell conventional weapons to iran. the u.n. city councsecurity cou to renew the arms embargo before it expires. we've made this a priority. the secretary has visited the u.n. security council two or three times to highlight the expiration of the arms embargo. today, by every measure, iran and its proxies are weaker than when our pressure began. shia military groups in syria have stated to "the new york times," this was in march, that
iran no longer has enough money to pay them as much as they have in the past. there was one shia fighter who said the golden days are gone and they're never coming back. iran just doesn't have the money it used to. hezbollah and hamas have enacted austerity plans due to a lack of funding from iran. in march, hezbollah's leader went on tv and said hezbollah needed public support to sustain its operation. and in various parts of lebanon, you can see piggy banks in grocery stores soliciting spare change from lebanese citizens to support hezbollah's operation. we're also making it harder for iran to expand its military capabilities. beginning in 2014, iran's military budget increased every year through to 2017. when it hit nearly $14 billion. however, from 2017 to 2018, when
our pressure went into effect, we saw a reduction in military spending of nearly 10% in the first year, and in iran's 2019 budget which was announced in march. there was a 28% cut to their defense budget. and this includes a 17% cut for irtc funding. because of our sanctions, iran will be unable to even fully fund this thin budget for 2019. the irgc's cyber command is now low on cash and the irgc has told iraq shia militia groups they should start looking for new sources of revenue. today this morning the imf revised its economic outlook for iran and forecasted a gdp contraction of 9.5%. we anticipate that in this year, iran could be in as much as a
12% negative gdp contraction. so the regime does face a choice. it can act like a country or it can act like a cause. iran must change its everybobeh and start to act like a nation or it will watch his economy continue to decline. our policy is at its core a diplomatic and economic one. this administration does not seek armed conflict with iran. we're relying on american pressure and american diplomacy -- economic pressure and american diplomacy to raise the costs on iran and force meaningful behavior change. unfortunately, iran has responded tod our diplomacy wit violence and kinetic force. in recent months, iran has launched a series of panicked attacks, what secretary pompeo has called panic aggression to
intimidate the world into hauld -- halting our pressure. iran was responsible for the assault on oil tankers in the gulf of oman and the attack on saudi oil facilities. iran's message to the international community is quite clear. and this is important that i think people understand the regime's paradigm. iran's message to the world is if you do not allow us to conduct our normal level of terror, then we'll behave even more badly until you do. iran has long used its nuclear program in this way and for this reason. the world ought to recognize this extortion when it sees it. when the world comes together to push back against iran and we saw this recently in the context of fifa which put pressure on iran because it was denying women from attending soccer
matches. fifa made very clear there needed to be a change, and for the first time iranian women were admitted recently into a game. they were segregated from everybody else and they were kept in a cordoned area, but it's an example of imposing sort of isolating iran and pressuring iran can achieve the kind of behavior change we're talking about. when the world comes together to push back iran, we do see a change in its behavior. this administration will do its part and we're succeeding in having others join us. during on the monday of the u.n. general assembly, france, germany, and the united kingdom called for iran to accept negotiations on its nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and regional activity. this has been the position of the united states for two and a half years. we were very pleased to see the e3 call on new negotiations so
we can have a new and comprehensive deal. i think it is very much the case that the iran nuclear deal has come at the expense of missile nonproliferation in the middle east. i think i have said to this committee probably a year ago, i know i said it a year ago when i was with the united nations. if we do not restore deterrents, we're accumulating risk of a regional war. we saw this one year later in the attack on saudi. we remember that the longest suffering victims of the iranian regime are the iranian people. we wish nothing more for the iranian people than a future with a truly representative government and a much better future with the american people and the iranian people. chairman, ranking member menendez and other members of the committee. i thank you for devoting a hearing on the subject of iran and i'm happy to answer your questions.
>> thank you very much for those comments. i really feel like we're in good hands with your firm hand on the tiller on this issue. with all due respect -- and i want to thank you for appearing before this committee. as you recall, senator menendez indicated we hadn't had a hearing on iran since i think 2017. on june 19th you appeared in a joint committee before us in the armed services committee along with two other informed witnesses on this important issue. we thank you for making yourself available to that. you know, the -- very troubling the fact that on october 18th the u.n. resolution is going to expire on the sale of conventional arms to the country. obviously we like to pass another resolution. but with the sellers, russia and china, having veto power over
that kind of an action by the u.n., what realistically do you think can happen there? what is the prognosis on this whole thing? >> secretary and i have had many discussions with russia and china about promoting a more peaceful and stable middle east. i've had separate discussions with china and russia. talking about the attack on september 14th and the significance of it. and we have to at least be honest with ourselves that the iran nuclear deal's approach to iran's missile program facilitated its missile testing and it also allowed iran to i think proliffate missiles to its proxies without much cost. the european union has not taken one sanction against iran's missile programs since adoption of the
iran nuclear deal. and yet during this same period, iran has increased its ballistic missile testing and its provision of weapons to its proxies. so i have seen some accounts where there is a lot of interest in the buyers and sellers on october 18th a year from now. so that iran can not only buy conventional weapons but also sell them. so we see a role for the u.n. security council after the attacks of september 14th on saudi arabia by iran. this is an act that was in clear violation of the united nation's charter. the u.n. security council is vested with responsibility for maintaining -- resolving trust to international peace and security. this violation of saudi sovereignty and it was an attack, really, in so many ways on the global energy market. because iran is trying to create shocks in the dploeglobal energ markets. they've failed at that to date.
we hope that china and russia will play a constructive role to get serious about iran's missile proliferation. russia and china voted for the arms embargo on iran. it was a resolution 1737, 1747. those series of resolutions. they've supported it before. no reason they can't support it again. we think that there's a clear case to be made for it in light of iranian aggression, not just over since may, but during as i said earlier during the life of the iran nuclear deal. >> i appreciate that view. one of the troubling aspects of this for me is that the ask here by the world to iran is an ask that iran has thumbed its nose at in a very haughty manner. and just absolutely refuses to even agree what is appropriate
international accepted conduct. i view it very different than the situation with north korea. with north korea you had kim jong-un who actually capitulated and said i'm willing to talk about what everybody wants, and that's a nuclear free peninsula. the irans aren't anywhere near that from an attitude standpoint. people argue that north korea hasn't gotten where we wanted. it certainly hasn't. i'll be the first to admit it's a work in progress. at least it is a work in progress. to me these things can resolve if you have two things. number one you have two parties that have a common objective. and then once the common objective is agreed to, that the two parties act in good faith. we have neither of those here with iran and didn't when we went into the jcpoa. what is your view on that just from an attitude standpoint? >> we haven't seen a change of
heart in the iranian regime. they seem to have doubled down on their strategy, which is a 40-year strategy of deniable attacks using proxies in the gray zone to conduct attacks against american partners, against american interests. what i think i would highlight here are the number of d diplomatic off ramps this administration has offered to the regime. it's not just the united states. prime minister abe was the first japanese prime minister to visit the islamic republic of iran. he went there. he asked president trump if he thought that would be useful. the president encouraged him to go. he went. the supreme leader put out a series of tweets rejecting the prime minister's diplomacy. while he was in country, they blew up a japanese oil tanker. you have president macron who has repeatedly try todied to
intervene squm intervene. the president has said many times haee'd be willing to meet. when the united states was in the iran nuclear deal and i attended to what turned out to the last meeting. so this is the administration that's very open to resolving our differences with iran at the negotiating table and diplomatically. now that you've seen the e3 also recognize the need for a new deal, i think that -- i also would point out at the beginning of the u.n. general assembly, how rouhani is experiencing a chilly reception at the united nations. what they did in terms of attacking the world's largest oil facility is in defensible. i think more people are
recognizing that. that's a good thing for our diplomacy. >> thank you. i think your observations about their reactions, particularly what they did to the japanese is very troubling. and the attitude issue to me is something that is troubling. everybody wants a diplomatic result here. everybody wants a diplomatic movement here. but, gosh, they aren't showing any signs whatsoever of going in that direction. thank you for your thoughts. senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. two comments to some of the comments you made -- first of all, this is the first public hearing in two and a half years. i believe the public has a right to know about what our iran policy is. we have not had a public hearing in two and a half years. secondly, i would just say as someone who was the staunchest opponent of the jcpoa that in fact leaving the jcpoa without a strategy at the end of the day without allies at the end of the
day has not left us in a better position. i don't care for the jcpoa. but by the same token leaving without a strategy has not led us to a better position. mr. hook, isn't it true that iran has hijacked oil tankers? >> they did take one oil tanker. >> isn't it true that they have struck oil tankers? >> yes, they have. >> isn't it true that they had a stealth attack on the saudi arabian oil refineries? >> uh-huh. >> i'm sorry. >> yes. >> isn't it true that iran has exceeded the limits imposed on a stockpile of uranium? >> yes. >> isn't it true it has enriched uranium to higher levels of concentration? >> yes. >> isn't it true it has began using more centrifugescentrifug? >> yes. >> we are right now in a worse position veez than we were
before. withdrawing troops in northern syria gives new life to isis and hands oversig the keys to iran, putin and assad. all the sanctions in the world aren't going to fix that. does the administration have a plan for countering iran in syria? if so can you explain what it is and how it will account for recent gains by iran backed proregime forces that are filling the vacuum we created in northern syria? >> i'd like to answer your first question and i'll take the next one. >> i posed the question as it relates to that. >> can i comment on your first question? >> if i get enough time. first answer my question. >> the president's decision with respect to syria is not going to change our iran strategy or the
efficacy of it. and so we are -- iran has given assad $4.6 billion in lines of credit and billions more. they have sent 2,500 of their own fighters and they have helped mobilize shia fighters to support assad. our diplomatic work that ambassador jeffrey is heading is to insure as part of a political solution that all of the forces in iran under iranian control have to leave syria. and we are withholding assistance for syria as one of the levers that we have. >> you really think that after having withdrawn and let the iranians -- what we have here is something that we by our presence helped avoid. we have the possibility of a land bridge that iran has sought over syria to attack our ally,
the state of israel. what commitments do we have from any of these parties that in fact they will prevent iran from moving fighters and supplies from iraq to northern syria. as far as i'm concerned, iran isn't an agent of russia. they have their own interest, they have spent their own blood. russia is not going to tell them, iran, thank you for your help, it's time to get out. they'll have their own interest. all we have done here is perpetuate their interest and created a greater risk for our ally, the state of israel. >> well, i'd say this, i think that our pressure on iran threatens iran's position in syria in three ways. it starts the irgc and hezbollah of operational funds. it disrupts iran's financial support to assad. i talked about the billions of dollars that iran has provided. our pressure is making it harder for iran to fund -- to give
assad financial support. we're impeding iran's ability to sell oil to syria. and we have sanctioned one oil shipping operation when we sanctioned russia and a syrian -- one of the ways that the force has been financing operations is through illicit oil shipments. after the oil we'll still keep after that. we're going to continue our pressure -- >> do we have -- let me ask again, do we have commitments from turkish or iraqi authorities to prevent iran from moving fighters and supplies from iraq to northern syria? >> that is something -- i've been with the secretary to iraq. we discuss that on a very regular basis -- >> we have no commitments? >> the specifics of this, i'm happy to follow up with you in terms of which minister or leader we spoke with about this. but we have raised this issue repe repeatly as a security concern. >> it seems to mere th that hern
example of maximum pressure without a strategy that ultimately brings iran to the negotiating table leaves us in. more attacks, more consequences, greater breakout, limiting the breakout time to the possibility of a pathway to nuclear weapons. a land bridge in addition to the president's decisions to withdraw precipitously out of syria. a land bridge for iran to attack our allies to save israel. if that's success, if that's your measurement of success then i have a real concern with where we're headed. >> two quick things on that. one, when the president got out of the iran deal, secretary pompeo released our iran strategy within a week or two. we did exit the deal with the strategy. and the secretary put in place very clear articulation of the 12 areas where we need to see a change in iranian behavior. that speech he gave in may of
2018 is the same policy that -- >> that's a wish list. >> i thought -- >> i agree it's a wish list. >> it's not a wish list. >> you think you're going to get everything that pompeo listed. you're going to give virtually no relief to iran and they're just going to succumb. >> no -- >> i'd like to believe that's the real world. that's not the real world, mr. hook. >> sir -- >> it's not the real world. >> we don't negotiate with ourselves. the 12 areas, requirements are a mirror image of iran's threat to peace and security. most of those 12 you can find in a u.n. security council resolution -- >> do you believe the -- >> senator, allow him to finish his sentence sf. >> he's taking my time. i saw the chairman went beyond his time as well. >> i've heard this sort of -- i've heard it often said that there is -- during the iran nuclear deal iran was behaving and since we got out of the deal things have gotten worse. i'd like to submit for the
record, this is 71 items of iran regime malign activities during negotiations with iran and during the jcpoa. it's 71 items long. and i think that we don't do ourselves a great service about understanding the historical record if we ignore what iran did during the negotiations and while the jcpoa was being implemented. so i'd like to submit this for the record so that people can review everything iran was up to while we were in the deal. >> it will be submitted for the record. senator menendez i'll give you the last word. >> just a simple question, virtually anywhere in the world, the more you want, it the more you have to give. or do you believe you can get everything that secretary pompeo asked for and just return to what was the status quo with the jcpoa in terms of relief? >> the united states tried taking a bifurcated approach.
by only focusing on one aspect of iran's path to peace and security. it was the iran nuclear deal. that has enabled iran to expand -- >> that's not responsive to my question. >> i am responding -- >> the more you ask for, do you not expect the more you'll have to give? >> yes. and if you look at the strategy that we laid out in may, secretary pompeo said at the conclusion of an agreement, which we'll submit to the isn't as a treaty -- >> which we applaud. >> i've worked very closely with this committee to show that i think we very much need to have full isn't support for what we're doing. if we're able to get into talks with iran, you'll be fully apprised. it's also the case that in that strategy the secretary said if we can get a deal, we are prepared to end all of our sanctions and to restore diplomatic ties with iran and to welcome iran into the
international community. that's very significant. that's never happened before. even under the iran nuclear deal, many of our sanctions stayed in place. so has some of the u.n. sanctions. they'll start unraveling, but we have put out very significant incentives for the regime. and the decision they face is whether they're going to come to the table and recognize that they're -- it's deepening isolation. come to the united states, come with the united states to the table and other countries to negotiate a full and comprehensive deal. >> thank you. senator johnson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would point out during the jcpoa debate, it was my amendment that would have deemed that a treaty. we would be in a far better place had we deemed that a treaty and treated it as such. mr. hook, thank you for your service. as a -- somebody who is observed iran for a long period of time, you've laid out in testimony their actions. they want to be a nuclear power. they're developing ballistic missiles.
they continue to support their terrorist proxies around the world. what is the ultimate goal? do you have a sense in terms of what they're actually trying to achieve? >> it's a good question. i gave a speech a couple weeks ago looking at the history of the regime. i think in many ways it's the last revolutionary regime on earth. if you look at its founding it talks about exporting revolution. and it has a clerical model where you have clerical and revolutionary oversight over what looks like a fairly west failian system with a president, a foreign minister, with a military but also has the revolutionary guard core. i highlight revolutionary guard core and an opaque financial system so it can move money around the world for terror, finance and money laundering. it's all in the service of
promoting clerical oversight, weaponizing shia grievances. undermining the sovereignty of -- >> do they want to top regimes and put in place some kind of iranian surrogates? or total iranian control over areas of the region? they want a greater iran? >> yes, they would like a greater iran, and so when you look at their engagement with iraq, if you look at where they engage in lebanon, where they take a country like lebanon and that military should have a monopoly on the use of force, but then hezbollah undermines that. they are trying to do the same thing in yemen with the houthis. they have an ambition to become a power broker in yemen on the saudi southern border so that it will be in a position to attack uaa, saudi, bahrain and also the u.s. navy.
>> but to eventually install a regime in these countries either favorable or under direct control of iran. >> yes. >> and that is their ultimate goal. >> yes. >> we need to understand that. the situation in syria is incredibly complex. i would like your evaluation of what is the current relationship with iran and russia as it relates to syria? >> i think russia has tried to have it both ways, both with syria and with israel, and so i think russia knows that it's going to have a very hard time getting into a post-conflict stabilization for as long as iran is using syria as a forward deployed missile base to attack israel. so i think there are incentives for russia to direct iranian forces out. at the same time i think that russia has also said to the israelis you should do whatever you need to do to defend yourself against attacks coming from iran inside syria, and so
they have done, i think, an artful job, president putin has of playing both sides. i think it is going to be very hard for syria. they're not going to see a return to normal until they direct the forces under iranian control to leave, and so i think there are incentives for president -- both for assad and for putin to get to a post-conflict stabilization, but for as long as they have iranian forces there with another agenda, it's going to be hard to get to that. >> there's not a cooperative relationship between russia and iran in syria? they're both supporting the syrian regime, but they're really not overtly cooperating? >> i think in this case they both have a common objective of saving assad. >> okay. what is iran's attitude towards isis? >> that is something which during the -- there are people,
i would probably defer to nea on this for the more specifics around it, and the history of that that occurred, i think in the last administration. in our mission to defeat isis, the president made a priority coming into office and working with secretary mattis to liberate the territorial caliphate are from all the lands under that control, but don't have anything to add beyond that. >> so i mean, iran just -- they're just kind of agnostic? they're happy to have isis destabilize the area? >> no, i would -- >> there's no evidence to support in any way, shape, or form? >> this is something which i would probably defer to my colleagues at the state on this who have been point on the counter isis campaign. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm happy to take that as a qfr. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you for your service. in your statement, you point out
the concern of a miscalculation in the region that could spread into a much more serious conflict. clearly, the iranians could make a miscalculation. clearly, the saudi s could make a miscalculation, and now israel might make a miscalculation based upon the increased concerns about iranian strength. so i want to just back up one moment to set the history here along with senator menendez, i opposed the jcpoa and i strongly disagreed with the administration's decision to pull out of the jcpoa. and you pointed out that you wanted to go to a maximum pressure campaign against iran. i support that. you also point out that prior to pulling out, that iran was violating international standards, and we all knew that. it was not on the nuclear side. it is on the non-nuclear side.
it wasn't covered under the agreement. they were in compliance with the agreement, but as president trump had indicated his displeasure with the jcpoa, you and i had conversations that we now had maximum pressure with our european allies to get their support for sanctions against iran on the ballistic missiles and other issues in which they were doing activity that was against international norms. and in fact, we could have had a maximum pressure campaign against iran on the activities that you're referring to but instead, the president pulled out of the jcpoa. that's the facts, and you and i know that even the e.u. is prepared to go along with us on sanctions, nuclear provided the united states stayed in the jcpoa. i want to underscore the point of senator menendez, since pulling out of the jcpoa look at the facts of what's happened. it's emboldened iran, look at
their attack against the saudi oil field and their capacity to do major damage. they have partnered and strengthened their position with russia and the assad regime in syria giving them additional capacity. they are now closer to restarting a nuclear weapons program than they were when we were in the jcpoa and we have no ability to challenge that within the jcpoa, and now you talk about the u.n. vote on the embargo, conventional weapons, and the united states influence is so much weaker today because we've isolated ourselves. we don't have the support of china and russia, and we've lost the credible support of our european allies in regards to iran. so when you talk about a maximum pressure campaign, it seems to me we gave up that maximum pressure when we pulled out of the jcpoa and isolated america.
now, i want to get to the most recent decision on president trump pulling out of northern syria with a conversation with president erdogan, and then the syrian -- the turkish forces going in and our kurdish fighters that were with us in northern syria now engaged in their own military campaign. it is clear from the facts on the ground that it's given additional influence in syria by russia, and there is now a concern that iran can be emboldened including in the bridge to israel's border. so i just want to get your view. the fact that we now have allowed the turkish forces unembedded without u.s. presence to go in and fight the kurds, does that help us or hurt us in regards to iran?
it's a simple question. i hope we can get an answer today. >> we are very comfortable with our iran strategy in syria. >> but the specific question i'm asking is about the current situation with the kurdish fighters now engaged with the turks. does that help us or hurt us in regards to the iranian strategy? >> it does not hurt our iran strategy, and so -- >> in other words it's helpful for us in regards to iran to have the kurdish fighters who were our stabilizing force in northern iran keeping russia and iran out, that's a positive view? >> well, our forces in northeast syria have never had an iran mission set. >> but now that we're not there and we now have the ability of russia to take a greater capacity in syria, allowing iran then to come into that -- to be more emboldened in syria, you're
saying that doesn't affect us? >> no, because our strategy from the beginning in syria has always been around using our diplomatic leverage, withholding reconstruction assistance, so that we can get forces under iranian control out, and then our maximum pressure campaign -- remember, while they were in the deal, they were able to give assad many billions of dollars. we are -- >> i'm trying to get to -- so you don't think there's now a greater chance of a miscalculation with israel looking at the iranians having greater access in syria that could use drones in a similar type of an attack that we saw against the saudis? you don't think that's a greater risk today because of what's happening in syria? >> we don't see it as a greater risk today, no, because israel will continue to do what it needs to do to defend itself -- >> we know that. suppose israel now is on higher alert. >> i haven't seen that.
i haven't seen that. so if you look at our core drivers from the beginning and nothing has changed with the president's recent decision on withdrawing troops from syria, our strategy is around denying revenue and using diplomatic leverage in syria to get iranian forces out. it is undeniable that during the iran nuclear deal iran was able to use the sanctions relief and give assad many billions of dollars and 12,500 fighters. that was the big mistake. and now we're trying to do everything we can to put this back in the box. >> my last point -- >> but it starts with denying them revenue, and we've done that. iran's military budget is down 28% -- >> i'll make my last point on that. we could deny them support from europe on sanctions but instead we chose to pull out of the jcpoa rather than working with our european allies.
you know that was on the table before the president pulled out of the jcpoa, and we lost that opportunity to get european support for stronger sanctions. >> so let me make one point on that, which i think there's been a lot the last couple of years. the president directed negotiations with the u.k., france, and germany over six months to see if we could fix the deficient psys of the iran nuclear deal and i led those negotiations, and we met in paris and in london and berlin, and washington multiple times over six months. we made a great deal of progress around the weak inspections regime, and the absence of intercontinental ballistic missiles from the deal. the biggest priority was ending the sunset clauses, and for as much as supporters of the deal like the deal, it expires. it did not permanently address iran's nuclear program. and so i spent six months working with the europeans, and we -- and the biggest thing for
us that we -- i think we achieved largely agreement on inspections and on icbms. we were not able to get agreement on ending the sunsets. >> turned down greater pressure on iran from the financial point of view because of the length of the jcpoa? >> say that one more time? i didn't understand that. >> you turned down the opportunity to get europe with us on sanctions against iran because you wanted a longer term on the nuclear provisions. i understand that. >> yeah. >> but you turned down maximum pressure in order to get an extension of a nuclear agreement that there was already compliance on. it's inconsistent with what you're saying now, you pulled out to put additional pressure on iran. it's inconsistent. >> i would say two things, we tried to remedy the deficient psys of the deal. i don't know who here supports ending the nuclear restrictions on iran, and they need -- no, because -- >> i support -- i supported your efforts to extend that, but the nuclear agreement did not have
any limitation on time. it was a permanent restriction on iran. >> it's not. >> yes, it was. they were not allowed ever to have nuclear weapons. >> no, it's not. the iran nuclear deal expires. it's going to start expiring a year from now. >> guys -- you'll get your shot at him, senators. i'd appreciate that. we're well over time, and it is -- this is a good experience to go through to litigate this, but let's try to do it as civilly as we can, and with that senator romney. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. hook, my reading is that iran's power position has cha e changed quite significantly as a result of turks going into syria wiping out our friends, the kurds, the kurds that are remaining rushing to assad and pledging support to assad. this changes the dynamic for
iran, i presume, in iran's view in a very positive way. i presume iran was smiling from ear to ear as turkey rushed in to syria. am i right that this really changes the dynamic for iran in syria and perhaps regionally? >> we do not believe that it changes the dynamic with iran because in terms of our strategy -- >> things are not better for iran in the middle east as we have gone, as turkey has hit the kurds and the kurds have now allied with assad? surely assad is stronger, and this isn't good for iran? >> if you take a look at what our u.s. special representative jim jeffries has said for some time now, our military is in syria for isis. our diplomacy is focused on iran, and that -- and so that's why jim jeffrey and i worked
together very closely because what i do on the pressure side and what he does on withholding reconstruction assistance is mutually reinforcing. >> i hear you, but diplomacy has impact if there's a military that's strong and in the region and when our ally now aligns with our adversary, assad, that is in my opinion not helpful for diplomacy, and not helpful for our interests in the region. that so dramatic a perspective on your part that iran is not celebrating what's happening in syria is extraordinary to me. let me turn to a different area, which is that i do agree that there is an e no r mouse benefit on putting pressure on iran, whether it's maximum pressure or not i don't know but i believe that a nation who decides to go nuclear should suffer a dramatic cost for doing so, whether or
not they're at their knees or not, i don't know, and it's very hard for us to tell from the outside what's actually going on inside iran, but clearly, it would have a dramatic effect if other nations were to join us in applying maximum pressure. what are the prospects for our european friends, for other nations around the world joining us either with a snapback provisions being applied or not on a snapback basis, what are the prospects of us actually seeing truly maximum pressure because it's applied not just by us but by our friends as well? >> there is no precedent in iran's history for the kind of pressure that we have put on them, and the regime has said this publicly. they have -- that they're experiencing the kind of economic contraction that is and will be worse than what happened during the iran/iraq war in the '80s. we have done a very good job of
drying up iran's sources of export revenue, but we've also done -- we've devoted as much energy to enforcing our sanctions, especially in the case of the oil sanctions, and i think that the fact that the u.k., france, and germany have now acknowledged something that we saw some time ago, that the iran deal is insufficient to address iran's threats to peace and security, and that when you are inside the deal, you can't touch your energy or your financial sanctions. that was the deal. so being out of the deal gives us a great deal more leverage to accomplish the objectives of denying iran a nuclear weapon -- >> yeah -- >> and missile proliferation, which i think other countries -- >> i'm not one of those that thinks we should be back in jcpoa, and i do believe that there should be an enormous price paid by a country that decides to go nuclear. i don't know whether we'll actually ever see iran make a different decision, but my
question is is there some prospect of our being able to get other nations to join us in applying maximum pressure on iran or must we continue to do it alone? >> i think it depends on how -- so europe has done a lot. they have not reimposed the financial sanctions that were in place, but when you look at what europe has done since the time that we left the iran deal, it's a fairly extensive list, and they have germany and i believe france and the u.k. have all denied landing rights to muhan air, which is an iranian commercial airline, which is a dual use commercial airline and also ferries terrorists and weapons around the middle east to their proxies. the e.u. did impose sanctions on iran's ministry of intelligence for terrorism in europe, and you have also had the e3 send a
number of letters condemning iran's space launch vehicle testing, iran's ballistic missile testing, you had boris johnson a few weeks ago said the iran deal is a bad deal with many, many defects. that has been our position. >> my time is up. i just want to point out that letters and speeches are delightful, but crippling sanctions on the part of our allies would make a real difference, i believe, in exacting a very substantial price on iran and hopefully causing dissent within their own country. but i think it should be a high priority of our country to get other nations to join us in those crippling sanctions. my time is up, so i'm going to pass the time over to the chairman. >> i agree with that last point. >> can i say one other thick for that. i'm happy to submit for the record this is three pages of european actions starting july 28th going up to september 24th, 2019. i talk on a weekly basis with my
european counter parts not just the e3, but we just had poland in town. we did a global ministerial on the middle east to promote peace and stability in warsaw, poland. we had 65 nations from almost every continent attend, so we have made working with our partners a priority. that's under secretary hale, secretary pompeo, deputy secretary sullivan, and so i'm happy to submit for the record three pages of everything that europe has done to counter iran's threats. >> thank you, those will be included in the record for full disclosure to everyone, and with that, senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman, without taking the senator's time, can you tell me how we're going to proceed since votes have just started? is the chairman intending to keep the hearing going as members come in and out to vote? >> i think this is an important hearing. >> i agree. >> and i think probably what we ought to do is get down to the very end and take a short break and everybody go vote and we'll come back here.
>> i see a lot of anxiousness on my friends' parts over here that were late to bite the apple, and i want to give them every opportunity to do so. with that, senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. hook, i want to follow up on the line of questioning that my colleagues have pursued with respect to syria because the shift by cukurdish forces who ar partners i believe is going to have serious implications for syria and for the region, and it's hard for me to understand that you think there's no -- or at least you appear to think there's no connection between what's going to happen in syria and our efforts to address what's happening in iran. now, the president said on twitter then anyone -- and i'm quoting, anyone who wants to assist syria with protecting the kurds is good with me, whether it's russia, china or napoleon
bonaparte. i hope they all do great. we're 7,000 miles away. does this anyone who the president is referring to also extend to iran, and are you concerned about a kurdish iranian alliance in the syrian conflict and what its impact on u.s. interests in the region will be? >> as i said earlier, syria is not going to see a return to normal until they direct forces under iranian control to leave, and we do have enormous leverage in that space. speaking just as -- >> can you just further elaborate what our leverage is? because it appears to me given the pull out of troops -- and i appreciate what you're saying about reconstruction dollars, but the fact is they are years away from reconstruction at this point, and so we had a very small amount of troops partnering with kurdish forces to maintain a significant area in northeast syria that was stable where the united states had influence, where we were
wanted, and what you're telling me now is that we have pulled out those troops and we have greater leverage than we had before? >> i didn't say that. what i am saying is that our pressure campaign -- because as i said, shia fighters don't have the money they used to, iran doesn't have the money it used to to support assad and to support its proxies. iran is going to face a dilemma. they can either support guns in syria or prioritize the needs of their own people at home, and that is the choice that we are -- that we are trying to force upon the regime. >> and have we not just empowered them further by pulling out of northeast syria and giving iran more influence in the region and more ability to negotiate with russia? you know, i heard the obama administration talk about how we were going to starve syria of the funds they needed to continue to engage in a civil war, and that never happened.
and what our experience has been with crippling sanctions, i think they're important, but they are not the only way -- the only tool in the toolbox for us to address these conflicts, so i guess i would go on to ask you, in september you noted that it's clear we need to reestablish deterrence. we're one missile strike away from regional war. i think that's a quote. could you speak to how this administration plans to reestablish deterrents against iran, and what specific options other than sanctions are on the table to penalize iran for its destabilizing behavior? >> well, the first thing you have to do is to stop doing what's not working, and there is no question that iran increased its missile proliferation and its missile testing. i talked about newly declassified -- >> i don't want to talk about jcpoa, what i want to talk about is what the administration has on the table now to address iran's destabilizing behavior. >> and i'm making that, but that
is part of it is we have to stop doing what we're doing or we're going o'to get more of the same. so we broke the paradigm of not having sufficient leverage and pressure to drive up the costs of iranian aggression, so we are only what, five or six months into having all of our sanctions imposed because for the first six months after getting out of the deal, we granted a few oil waivers. now since may we were about five or six months into this, and we have achieved record results, but we also have to understand that we never promise ds ed -- >> how do you define record results? >> because the regime is materially weaker today than it was when we took office two and a half -- >> i appreciate on paper that's the case. >> not just on paper -- >> but when we look at the behavior they are exhibiting both in the region and in terms of our interests in the region, they have increased that destabilizing behavior. >> it isn't an increase.
i do want you to take a look at all 71 instances of this. iran for 40 years has been running a steady state of aggression and using terrorism as a tool of statecraft, and as i said, there is -- they want the world to accept a normal level of terrorism as they defined it, and then when the world stands up to them, they increase it to a level to put pressure on people so that they'll return to their normal level. we are breaking the paradigm. >> i have heard you make this argument this morning, and i appreciate that that's an argument that the administration has. i'm just not buying that argument at this point, and what i'm asking is what are the plans? what are the additional plans beyond sanctions that will address their behavior and my time is up, so i'm not going to ask you to respond to that. i do have one final question i'd like to ask you, and that is do you believe that isis has been defeated in syria?
>> the territorial -- >> that's a yes or no. >> the territorial caliphate has been defeated. we have liberated all the land that has been held by isis. it's a separate question on the forces of extremism. that's a separate question. >> do you believe that the forces of extremism have been defeated in syria? >> there is no one who will claim that the forces of extremism have not been defeated in the middle east in any administration. there is -- there is a crisis of islamist extremism that has been going on for many decades, and we have -- >> that we just exacerbated by pulling american troops out of northeast syria, and we have given rise to the potential for isis to come back in syria, in iraq, all across the region, and that empowers iran. thank you. >> it is clearly the case that iran, if you talk to countries in the region and here's an area where you're going to hear complete agreement from the israelis and the other arab countries on the front lines of
iranian aggression, is that iran expanded its power over the last many years, and we came into office with a regime that was enjoying a very healthy economy, a healthy military budget, strong proxies, and there was a deficit of trust that we inherited with our sunni partners, and with israel, and i would say that our bilateral relations with all of these countries has been markedly improved, and we have helped to shrink the iran tumor, but we're only at this for the first -- this has only been a matter of about a year and a half since leaving the deal, and there is tiss -- i mean you don't have to take my words for it. in march the "new york times" ran a front page story documenting that iran's proxies are weaker today and in "the washington post" ran a follow on story in june documenting how iran's proxies are weaker because of our sanctions. these are stories that were not written about prior to our pressure campaign. >> senator paul. >> you know, if we step back and ask the question do sanctions
work, i think it's a bigger, broader question. we think, oh, it's all we can do is we do sanctions and we do more, and more, and we're dog maximum pressure. i think they're having an economic effect, nobody questions that. are they working to bring iran to the negotiating table, i'd say they aren't really working, so i think it's a fact of loss of trust. i think that iran feels that we're not trustworthy because of pulling out of the agreement that was worked on for so many years. i think it's also a matter of having naive expectations that they're going to agree to 12 points, much of which they didn't agree to in the previous agreement. so i think it's going to be very difficult to get started because of the lack of trust and starting with some things that were not agreed to previously and were specifically agreed to different limits like no enrichment and no ballistic missile agreement. i think iran sees their ballistic missiles as a deterrent as well, and i don't think they're willing to giver up a deterrent as they see saudi arabia spending $83 billion a year, oh, my goodness, iran
spends 14 billion. that's 1/50 of what we spend, and it's about 1/4 or even less than 1/4 of what saudi arabia, if you add in saudi arabia's allies, you can siee why iran wy they might not see please take my ballistic missiles. they're not jumping up to do this, and they're against the world's super power willing to keep picking and prodding. by pulling out showed that we're not to be trusted from their perspective. so your problem there is you have an unwilling partner. in syria it's a little bit different. in syria, we've been unwilling to negotiate in the sense that our goal has been remove assad, replace assad, so no one wants to negotiate with assad. i think the one thing that hasn't been picked up on yet and i think it's going to be ironic because everybody seems to be concerned about the kurds is actually, i think the kurds permanent solution is much more likely to come from assad. he's there. he largely is going to stay
barring something untoward happening to him from his own people, but the war is largely over. assad stays. if we're going to be realistic about this and we want to protect the kurds, maybe the diplomatic arena has gotten simplified. now essentially we have turkey on one side and syria on the other. everybody's going to talk about the sanctions which i frankly don't think will work. i think really somebody from the state department that's involved with diplomacy ought to be saying why don't we try to use our leverage to get turkey now and assad to talk, but we would have to ak nocknowledge that someone's going to talk to as d assad. i think if we did, the goal would actually be to allow the kurds to live in the northeastern quadrant of syria, similar to the way the kurds live in iraq. it wasn't always easy there. it's been very messy and there have been a lot of problems, but currently the iraqi kurds trying d trade with the turks and have a fairly decent and robust trade. over the last ten years it's
actually increased. i think we shouldn't look at this as oh, my goodness, the kurds are going wiped out a and all of this. i think we should look at it as an opportunity as a breakthrough diplomatically because we've simplified who needs to talk to whom at this point. i would hope, and i guess my question is is there anybody in the state department actually looking to take an opportunity of the new dynamic in the last 24 hours that if assad could reassure erdogan that he's going to prevent incursions and that he's going to respect the border with turkey and that he's going to use a real government with the stability of a real government, is there a possibility erdogan would simply withdraw under that guaranteed? that's the kind of conversation that we've kind of prevented from happening because we wouldn't let the kurds talk to assad. in some ways i think there may be a breakthrough here. your comments. >> well, my understanding that there is a member briefing that is in the works, try to be organized, that would focus on syria, so that's probably a
question that's best left to my colleague, my counter part jim jeffrey, who's lead on syria. can i answer your question about -- >> do you see a way the kurds could permanently live in syria without some kind of arrangement with the syrian government? >> i'm going to say in my lane and let jim jeffrey answer that question, but i do want to answer your iran question that you asked at the top. iran does have a history of coming to the table in the context of sanctions, and we saw that in the run up to the iran nuclear deal. we have also seen that in various times when the united states -- >> but i think you have to be willing to offer something. simply saying we're not going to offer any relief. if you were willing to offer relief of some of the export to asia of their oil so you don't have a complete embargo on them, yeah, i think they'd talk in a heartbeat. that would be offering something, and it would have been easier before they attacked saudi arabia. it's easier to offer them something now, but six months ago had you offered them relief of some of the sanctions in order to get the talks starts i
think you might have had a chance. now nobody wants to offer relief because of the heightened tensions between the countries. i think it's more difficult now to get started. >> sanctions relief was not granted in the run up to what became the iran nuclear deal and i think once you establish that precedented. >> you had a unified europe at that time too, you had a little more pressure, but you had the engagement of the obama administration actually talking to them, and there was more trust then. there's less trust now because we basically pulled out of something they were aat they we adhering too. >> they rejected the offer while we were in the deal. iran rejected our offers of meeting while we were in the iran nuclear deal. it didn't happen after we left the deal. they have consistently rejected diplomacy. i think they have a theory of the case that their rtans is re is greater than our pressure. we know that the regime has less
revenue to spebd on its military budget and all of -- we're f forcing them to make very hard choices. as i said earlier, ooifr looki' at the 40-year history of it. if talking nicely would have worked, we would have solved this a long time ago. it doesn't. this is a regime that only understands strength. >> they don't consider an em bar goe talking nicely to them. they don't understand this to be nice talk when we have an embargo on their main export. >> but that oil goes to fund terrorism. so if you let iran sell oil, they use it for terrorist operations, so we don't want iran to sell its oil. that's why we put in place the embargo, i mean the sanctions that we have on iran's oil exports, and that's tens of billions of dollars in revenue that they would other side spend on hamas hezbollah, the houthis
in yemen, islamic jihad, shia militias in iraq and syria. that's a good thing. >> thank you, mr. hook, we're going to have to take a break. we're going to go vote on the number one, number two, and then we will be back in session and appreciate your patience. thank you. you're welcome to use our room. >> thank you. >> senate foreign relations committee will be in recess.
>> the senate foreign relations committee on iran taking a break now to head to the senate chamber for a series of votes on judicial nominations. this afternoon the house will work on a resolution opposing president trump's decision to pull back troops in northern syria. you can watch the house live on c-span. of course see the senate on our companion network c-span2. president trump is meeting with the italian president today, and they will hold a news conference scheduled for noon eastern. we are planning to bring that to
you a little bit later. again, the senate foreign relations committee, iran hearing in a recess now. we'll have more live coverage after the senate has finished voting here on c-span3. here's a look at what's ahead here on c-span3, a house foreign affairs subcommittee will get an update on president trump's decision to withdraw troops from syria, and hear from the bipartisan syria study group. live coverage of that begins at 2:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. a little bit later, democratic presidential candidate joe biden will hold a campaign event in davenport, iowa. book tv has live coverage of the wisconsin book festival from madison starting saturday at 11:30 eastern featuring former diplomat fair ra pandif. democratic political strategist donna brazil reflects on her career, author and national book festival literary director maria
ronna provides a history of latin america and megan fephelp roper recounts growing up as a member of the baptist church. watch our live coverage of the wisconsin book festival saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. eastern, and be sure to catch the texas book festival in october and the miami book fair in november or book tv on c-span2. amy mckinnon at our table this morning. she's with foreign policy magazine here to talk about ukraine and the origins of this impeachment inquiry. let's go back to 2014, 2015, 2016, obama administration. what is u.s. policy toward ukraine at this time? >> u.s. policy towards ukraine since ukraine's independent from the soviet union has been fairly consistent in pushing ukraine on anticorruption reform. that's been one of the corner stones of u.s. messaging in ukraine for decades, and that's been fairly consistent, both under barack oba