U.S. ‘holding off’ sanctions on FM Zarif: sources

July 12, 2019

TEHRAN – The U.S. has decided to put off imposing sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for now, Reuters quoted two unnamed sources as saying on Thursday.

Last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that Zarif would be blacklisted as part of the U.S. policy to put “maximum pressure” on Iran and its top officials.

Blacklisting Iran’s chief diplomat would be in stark contrast with Washington’s repeated calls for dialogue with Tehran amid heightened tensions.

“Cooler heads prevailed. We ... saw it as not necessarily helpful,” said one source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had opposed designating Zarif “for the time being.”

Zarif is expected to attend a ministerial meeting at the United Nations next week on sustainable development goals, which aim to tackle issues including conflict, hunger, gender equality and climate change by 2030. To do so, the United States would have to grant him a visa.

On July 4, the New York Times quoted Zarif as saying that he did not own any property or have any bank accounts outside Iran. “So I have no personal problem with possible sanctions,” he said.

However, Tehran insists that the imposition of the new sanctions on top Iranian officials by the U.S. is synonymous with “permanent closure of the path to diplomacy”.

“The Trump administration is violating all established international mechanisms for maintaining global peace and security,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said after the U.S. announced its sanctions against top Iranian officials, which also included the office of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Iran and the U.S. have been at odds since last year when Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister has warned of plans by a “B-team” to lure Trump into a war with Tehran.

Zarif refers to U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed as the B-team who “despise diplomacy, and thirst for war.”

On Monday, he said the B-team pressured Trump to kill the nuclear deal under the illusion that they can secure a better deal through “economic terrorism” against Iran.

“B-Team sold Donald Trump on the folly that killing JCPOA through Economic Terrorism can get him a better deal,” Zarif remarked.

MH/PA

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