TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday mocked a US determination to impose sanctions on his prime diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying it confirmed Washington was “afraid” of him as tensions once more flare between the arch-enemies.
The US Treasury mentioned the sanctions would freeze any of Zarif’s belongings in the US or managed by US entities, in addition to squeeze his means to perform as a globe-trotting diplomat.
“They’re afraid of our international minister’s interviews,” Rouhani mentioned in a televised speech, referring to a latest spherical of interviews Zarif gave to international media in New York.
“It’s utterly clear that the foundations of the White Home have been shaken by the phrases and logic of an knowledgeable, devoted and diplomatic particular person.
“They’re doing infantile issues now,” Rouhani mentioned on a go to to the northwestern metropolis of Tabriz.
“Our enemies are so helpless that they’ve misplaced the flexibility to behave and suppose properly.”
Iran’s highly effective Revolutionary Guards referred to as the designation “absurd” and thanked Zarif for his service.
“People have as soon as once more proven their anger on the Islamic Revolution’s inspiring… discourse and made evident their enmity in direction of Iran’s system and proud nation,” mentioned an announcement on the Guards’ official web site.
The designation of Zarif beneath the identical sanctions already utilized to supreme chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the most recent in a sequence of US strikes towards Iran.
Zarif is anticipated to have the ability to proceed to go to the United Nations in New York, albeit beneath tight restrictions.
“Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s supreme chief, and is the regime’s major spokesperson world wide,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mentioned in an announcement.
“America is sending a transparent message to the Iranian regime that its latest behaviour is totally unacceptable.”
The arch-foes have been locked in a battle of nerves since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from a landmark 2015 deal putting limits on Iran’s nuclear programme and commenced reimposing sanctions.
The scenario has worsened for the reason that Trump administration stepped up its marketing campaign of “most stress” towards Iran this yr, with drones downed and tankers mysteriously attacked in Gulf waters.
However in a combined message to Tehran, Washington on Wednesday prolonged waivers for 3 Iranian civil nuclear initiatives, to keep away from upsetting the opposite events to the 2015 settlement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
“It is a quick 90-day extension,” mentioned White Home nationwide safety adviser John Bolton, a champion of the hawkish coverage in direction of Iran.
“We’re watching these nuclear actions very carefully, they continue to be beneath day by day scrutiny,” he instructed Fox Enterprise.
Zarif has been on the coronary heart of complicated talks with international capitals over Iran’s nuclear energy business, which Tehran says is peaceable, however Washington and regional allies together with Israel insist is canopy for a secret weapons programme.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
However a senior Trump administration official mentioned Zarif’s diplomatic picture — bolstered by his fluent English, self-effacing humour and US educational background — was false.
“The important thing situation is that he has had this veneer… of being the honest and cheap interlocutor for the regime. Our level as we speak is that he’s no such factor,” the official mentioned on situation of anonymity.
“At present President Trump determined sufficient was sufficient,” the official mentioned, accusing Zarif of functioning as “propaganda minister, not international minister”.
Zarif shot again, tweeting that the US was attempting to silence Iran on the worldwide stage.
“The US’ cause for designating me is that I’m Iran’s ‘major spokesperson world wide’ Is the reality actually that painful?” he wrote.
“We all know that calling for dialog & peace is an existential risk to #B_Team,” he added, referring to Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others pushing a tough line on Iran.
Different Iranian officers echoed Zarif’s feedback.
“America shouldn’t be solely afraid of Iran’s missiles but in addition of Iran speaking,” Abbas Ali Kadkhodayi, spokesman for Iran’s law-vetting Guardian Council, mentioned on Twitter.
“Sanctioning @JZarif means America’s declare of freedom of speech is fake. Sanctioning Zarif means the autumn of the Statue of Liberty.”