Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, above, on Thursday snubbed the US for imposing sanctions on him, saying it only exposes Washington’s fears in negotiating with him.
On Wednesday, the US Department of Treasury said Zarif’s assets in the US, if any, will be frozen and Washington will not consider him as a primary point of contact if it wants to hold talks with Tehran on a new nuclear deal.
In a tweet, Zarif said the US sanctioned him because he is Iran’s primary spokesperson around the world.
He thanked Washington for considering him such a huge threat to its agenda.
Any move for peace talks is an existential threat for President Donald Trump’s B-team consisting of his National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Salman and President of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Zarif wrote.
The sanctions will not impact him or his family since he has no property or interests outside Iran, Zarif noted.
The US move to designate the top Iranian diplomat was unusual since it could block the main channel for talks with Tehran.
It comes weeks after the US put Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in its sanctions list.
Responding to the latest sanctions, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted the US authorities fear Zarif’s logic and negotiating skills.
US Department of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended Washington’s move against the diplomat saying Zarif implements the “reckless” agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.
US-Iran ties worsen
The US-Iran ties were badly hit when Trump walked away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.
Their relations deteriorated after Washington blamed Tehran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.
The US almost launched airstrikes on targets in Tehran last month after members of Revolutionary Guards shot down its drone that allegedly entered Iran’s airspace. The US retaliated by downing an Iranian drone that allegedly flew close to its warship USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz.
In the meantime, Iran began enriching uranium beyond the 3.67% level as other signatories of the nuclear deal — the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China — failed to facilitate oil exports and trade with Iran.