US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to meet his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany in Brussels on Tuesday in order to make a case for tough new sanctions on Tehran.
US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook is reportedly traveling with Pompeo. He has said that the talks with the Europeans would be about Iran’s missile capabilities.
Pompeo reportedly met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brussels on Monday night, mainly to discuss Iran.
The top US diplomat reaffirmed the strength of US-Israel alliance and reiterated America’s resolve in confronting Iran through maximum pressure during a dinner with the Israeli leader, Voice of America reported.
The meetings are the latest salvo in an escalating US campaign against Iran since President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal in May and reimposed all sanctions lifted on Tehran under the agreement.
On Saturday, Pompeo claimed that Iran had tested a medium-range ballistic missile which violated the international agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.
Without confirming or denying the test, Iran rejected
his claims that it "violates UNSCR 2231" – a United Nations Security Council resolution which endorses the international nuclear agreement abandoned by the US in May.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 "calls on" Iran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
Tehran has always emphasized that it has no nuclear warheads and that none of its missiles have been designed to carry nuclear weapons.
Iran’s missile program is not tied to the nuclear agreement and US and European officials have admitted that it does not violate the nuclear agreement.
However, France and Britain described the alleged missile test by Iran “provocative” and asked the UN Security Council to meet behind closed doors to discuss the matter Tuesday.
Washington’s new push to pressure Iran comes as the European Union is trying to set up a clearing house for non-dollar transactions with the Islamic Republic without falling foul of the US sanctions.
"We would like to see the European Union move sanctions that target Iran's missile program," Hook said.
“The United States has imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and entities who are supporting Iran’s missile program. We think those sanctions can be effective if more nations can also join us in that effort,” he added.
On Thursday, Hook displayed some metal scraps purportedly from Yemen as "new evidence of Iran’s ongoing missile proliferation.”
He pressed back on criticisms that the display was a political stunt by the Trump administration that could increase tensions in the region.
Iran said Sunday it would continue missile tests to build up its defenses and the country’s deterrence.