A senior US official said that his country’s tougher sanctions on the Iranian regime were aimed at preventing Iran from spreading terrorism around the world, changing its behavior, and halting its support to terrorist militias in the region.

US Department of State Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran spent $700 million a year on Lebanon’s “Hezbollah”, noting that these funds could have been used to serve the Iranian people and their well-being.

“All the sanctions we have imposed are to prevent Iran from financing terrorism around the world; Iran pays $700 million annually to Hezbollah – the Lebanese terrorist organization. [The money] could have been used to serve the Iranian people, but this is not a priority for the Iranian regime; this amount could have been used to curb inflation, improve infrastructure and reduce unemployment,” Sales said.

“We want to get an agreement that makes Iran act as a normal state and stop supplying its proxies with ballistic capabilities and destabilizing the region,” he added.

In response to a question about the Turkish foreign minister’s statement that his country rejects the sanctions against Iran and considers them dangerous, Sales said: “We are aware of Turkey’s announcement… and we are currently analyzing it.”

On whether Iran would be able to circumvent recent sanctions, especially through the private sector, the State Department counterterrorism coordinator ruled out this suggestion, saying that the private sector would work to preserve its interests.

He noted in this regard that many companies have left the Iranian market, even before US sanctions were implemented, because the decision to work in the United States was better than working in Iran.

Sales emphasized the importance of ending all of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and its threats to the security of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

He said that it was no secret that Iran was one of the supporters of the Houthi militias in Yemen, noting that it is “unacceptable that Saudi Arabia is threatened by Iran’s supply of rockets to its militias. The UAE is also threatened by unmanned aerial vehicles. This is unacceptable.”

Sales underlined that Iran should “act like any normal country by adhering to international laws,” instead of destabilizing its neighbors and supporting its proxies in the region.

He also pointed out that the United States was working with the Lebanese government to strengthen it and consolidate its independence from “Hezbollah” so it could enjoy sovereignty and control over all Lebanese territories.

The US official concluded by stressing that the United States had no problem with the Iranian people, but shared its aspirations for a better government that respects human rights.

Source » aawsat