WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The USA on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, focusing on the nation’s prime spokesman and doubtlessly hurting probabilities of diplomatic talks amid rising tensions between the 2 nations.
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York, New York, U.S. April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Zarif was an essential determine within the 2015 Iran nuclear deal agreed underneath the administration of President Barack Obama with Tehran and different world powers. President Donald Trump pulled america out of the deal final 12 months.
Strains between Washington and Tehran have risen in current months after assaults on tankers within the Gulf that america blames on Iran and Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone that prompted preparations for a U.S. retaliatory air strike that Trump referred to as off on the final minute.
“Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Chief, and is the regime’s main spokesperson all over the world. The USA is sending a transparent message to the Iranian regime that its current habits is totally unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated in a press release.
The sanctions towards Zarif would block any property or pursuits he has in america, however the Iranian international minister stated he had none.
“The US’ cause for designating me is that I’m Iran’s ‘main spokesperson all over the world’,” Zarif stated on Twitter. “Is the reality actually that painful? It has no impact on me or my household, as I’ve no property or pursuits outdoors of Iran. Thanks for contemplating me such an enormous risk to your agenda.”
The Trump administration stated it might make selections on whether or not to grant Zarif a journey visa, together with for journeys to the United Nations, on a case by case foundation, holding open the likelihood that he would possibly attend the annual U.N. Normal Meeting in September.
If Zarif acquired such a visa, that would depart the door open to attainable direct or oblique U.S. contacts with Zarif through the gathering, which brings many of the world’s leaders to New York and has been the venue for earlier U.S.-Iranian contacts.
A senior U.S. official reiterated that Trump was open to talks with Iran, however stated the administration didn’t take into account Zarif to be a key choice maker.
Mnuchin stated Zarif used social media to unfold Iranian “propaganda and disinformation” whereas the federal government didn’t enable its residents to make use of such mediums themselves.
Reporting by Jeff Mason and Eric Beech; Extra reporting by Mohammad Zargham, Arshad Mohammed and Babak Dehghanpisheh; modifying by Grant McCool