Military option on table against Iran: US envoy

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. will not hesitate to use military force against Iran, a State Department official said Thursday, displaying weaponry he said Tehran sent to different proxies.

The agency’s representative for Iran, Brian Hook, briefed reporters at a military base in Washington regarding Iran's transfer of arms to proxy groups and the Tehran’s missile development.

He said the U.S. prefers to engage with the country diplomatically, but the military option is on the table.

"We have been very clear with the Iranian regime that we will not hesitate to use military force when our interests are threatened. I think they understand that. I think they understand that very clearly," Hook said.

"I think right now, while we have the military option on the table, our preference is to use all of the tools that are at our disposal diplomatically," he added.

The U.S. has taken a much harsher stance on Iran since President Donald Trump took office. Trump pulled Washington out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Tehran earlier this month.

Hook unveiled evidence he said of Iran's missile proliferation, and highlighted different weapons systems the U.S. says were sent to proxies, with emphasis on Houthis rebels in Yemen.

He displayed an array of weapons picked up in Afghanistan, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, claiming they were of Iranian origin.

If Iran is found to have sent weapons systems to these places, it would be in violation of UN resolutions.

"As the world strives toward peace and security in the Middle East, we are working to reverse advances made by Iran and its proxies over the last several years," Hook said.

Many of the weapons Hook mentioned were obtained by Saudi Arabia, amid growing criticism in Washington of the U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition's operations in the Yemeni civil war.