US imposes sanctions on Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif

August 1, 2019 - 21:37

The administration of US President Donald Trump has imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for what Iran calls “great fear” of his eloquent delivery of the Iranian nation’s message to the world.

In separate statements on Wednesday, the US departments of State and Treasury announced the imposition of sanctions against Zarif because he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Back on June 24, US President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran targeting Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and top commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

In his statement on blacklisting Zarif, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the top Iranian diplomat is a “key enabler” of Iran’s policies throughout the region and the world.

The US Treasury Department also said in its statement that Zarif is Iran's "primary spokesperson around the world," and that the ban "is sending a clear message that Iran's "recent behavior is completely unacceptable.”

“The US' reason for designating me is that I am Iran's ‘primary spokesperson around the world’. Is the truth really that painful?” Zarif said in a tweet shortly after the designation, mocking the terms used by the US administration to describe his activities.

He also reiterated that the move by the US administration “has no effect” on him or his family, as they “have no property or interests outside of Iran.”

“Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.”

In another tweet, Zarif further mocked the reason for the sanctions.

"Since reason for designating me is my words, would "US persons" need OFAC license to "engage" with me by reading my writings or listening to interviews?" he asked the US secretaries of state and treasury as well as the CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey.

In a contradictory stance, a US official later claimed “the Trump administration is not closing the door to potential nuclear talks with Iran by sanctioning Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who it does not consider a significant decision maker.”

“If we do have an official contact with Iran, we would want to have contact with someone who is a significant decision-maker,” the senior administration official said.

In reaction to these remarks, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said, “The pinnacle of contradiction and stupidity of US leaders is where they repeatedly call Foreign Minister Zarif an insignificant actor in the Iranian politics but at the same time put him on the sanctions list in a totally unwise move.”

“Americans are extremely terrified of Dr. Zarif’s logic and his art of negotiation,” he added.

The new ban comes as when the US was announcing its June sanctions against Iranian officials, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said that Zarif would be blacklisted as well.

However, it was later reported the US had reversed that decision without giving specific reasons for it.

"Cooler heads prevailed. We ... saw it as not necessarily helpful," said one source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that Pompeo had opposed designating Zarif "for the time being."

Zarif is seen as the architect of a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, which the Trump administration abruptly abandoned last year. The US reinstated its unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic following its exit from the landmark deal.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated after Trump pulled his country out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticisms.     

US ‘ridiculous’ sanctioning of Zarif aimed at mounting pressure on Iran: IRGC

Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has condemned imposition of sanctions on the country’s top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, as a “ridiculous” and “illegal” measure, which is in line with the United States’ policy of mounting maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Issuing a statement on Thursday, the IRGC condemned imposition of US sanctions on Zarif, saying, “By imposing sanctions on the respectable foreign minister [of Iran], Americans once again demonstrated their anger at the spread of the Islamic Revolution’s inspiring and anti-arrogance discourse, and unveiled their mischief and animosity toward the dignified Iranian establishment and nation.”

The administration of US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Zarif on Wednesday because he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The US Treasury Department also said in its statement that Zarif is Iran's "primary spokesperson around the world," and that the ban "is sending a clear message that Iran's "recent behavior is completely unacceptable.”

The sanctions imposed on Zarif, the IRGC’s statement added, show how the Americans are “expressing their rage and anger at [Zarif’s] way of expressing the truth [about them] and exposing their sinister nature.”

The measure was also meant to counter “a diplomacy that is based on resistance and aims to give voice to the position of a nation that has chosen to tread down the path of dignity and independence and stand up to bullies while refusing to give in to modern colonialist rule,” it added.

The IRGC suggested that maybe Washington itself once used to consider issuing such sanctions to be beneath a country like it, which lays claim to being a superpower, but has now resorted to sanctions in a bid to make up to some degree for its desperation, distress, and weakness.

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