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Sanctioning Zarif further undermines U.S. diplomatic credibility: ex-U.S. ambassador to NATO

August 3, 2019 - 19:42

In an article published by LobeLog on Thursday, Robert E. Hunter, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said that Washington’s act in imposing sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will undermine U.S. diplomatic credibility.

“In the first place, it is most unusual to place the chief negotiator for an unfriendly (or even enemy) nation on the “unwelcome” list. It is a direct violation of accepted diplomatic practice, going all the way back to the Greeks a few thousand years ago, as well as of Article 31 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the way in which countries agree to treat foreign diplomats,” he stated.

Hunter also said that the U.S. act weakens efforts being made by those who seek to de-escalate Iran-West crisis.

He described Zarif as “a particularly effective spokesperson for Tehran” and said that sanctioning him was a very deliberate attempt to increase the chances that Tehran will take more provocative steps that will have the effect of persuading European leaders to side with Washington.

Elsewhere in the article, he said, “What the U.S. has done regarding Zarif is also consistent with Trump’s standard tactic of trying to change the subject when he gets into trouble. The U.S. Congress has just passed legislation halting the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia for its conflict in Yemen—characterized by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis—in which the United States (along with Britain) has been deeply engaged through a wide range of support activities. This vote, including a majority in the Republican-controlled Senate, was embarrassing to Mr. Trump, notwithstanding his veto (which has just been sustained).”

In separate statements on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury and State Department announced imposition of sanctions against Zarif, a move which was interpreted as a total rejection of diplomacy repeatedly claimed by the Trump administration.

At home there was a huge torrent of support for Foreign Minister Zarif who is liked by the people and even his moderate opponents. They all consider him a highly qualified diplomat and treasure him for his rationality.

President Rouhani described the U.S. move against his foreign minister as a “childish behavior”.

In a televised address, Rouhani said, “They were claiming ever day ‘we want to talk, with no preconditions’ ... and then they sanction the foreign minister.”

He also said the U.S. is “afraid” of Zarif.

“They are afraid of our foreign minister’s interviews. It is completely clear that the foundations of the White House have been shaken by the words and logic of an informed, devoted and diplomatic individual,” the president pointed out.

Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri lauded Zarif’s diplomatic capability, saying, “Even wise enemies are aware of his intellect, skill, his rare competence in negotiations, creating opportunities, and avoiding conflict and war.”

“Sanctioning Zarif is another reason for (U.S.) hypocrisy and lying in calling for negotiations,” Jahangiri wrote on his Twitter account.

On Wednesday, Zarif responded to sanctions on himself in a tweet.

“The US’ reason for designating me is that I am Iran’s ‘primary spokesperson around the world’

Is the truth really that painful?” Zarif wrote.

Zarif said the move shows that Donald Trump and his team consider him as a “huge threat” to their plots against Iran.

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

Zarif added, “It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran.”

NA/PA

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