Foreign policy

Trump envoy claims Iran pressure is working despite fears of war

Brian Hook testifies today. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Brian Hook, the U.S. envoy for Iran, insisted today that the Trump administration’s "maximum pressure" campaign is working, despite escalating tensions and growing fears of war.

Between the lines: Asked to justify that claim of success, Hook told members of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that funding to Iranian proxies had dropped, and argued with limited evidence that the regime is now "weaker." He didn’t deny that withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal and ramping up sanctions had rendered Iran more aggressive, rather than less.

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In Tehran, Shinzo Abe tries to play part of U.S.–Iran mediator

Shinzo Abe and Hassan Rouhani shaking hands
Hassan Rouhani and Shinzo Abe in Tehran. Photo: Presidency of Iran / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe begins two days of meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday — seeking "a frank exchange of views" and following up on a proposal to mediate for the U.S. that President Trump cautiously welcomed in May.

Why it matters: Abe’s visit comes amid Iranian escalation — of both its regional operations and nuclear program — and intensifying U.S. economic pressure. As Iran seeks relief from American sanctions, Abe is likely banking on the U.S.–Japan alliance and his close relationship with Trump to protect Japan’s interests and boost its image.