Trump Imposes Sanctions On Iran's Foreign Minister, Further Tightening Diplomatic Screws
Topline: The Trump administration imposed potentially ineffective sanctions Wednesday on Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif and said he’s a “propaganda arm” for Iran’s supreme leader, two moves further complicating any possibility of diplomacy.
- The sanctions target any assets Zarif holds in the United States. Zarif wrote on Twitter that he has no assets outside of Iran, meaning the sanctions should not affect him.
- Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said Wednesday that Zarif was the “propaganda arm” of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
- He hinted at the sanctions weeks ago when he accused Zarif of spreading Khamenei’s “reckless agenda” as his “primary spokesperson.”
- The new sanctions drew bipartisan criticism from Republican senator Rand Paul and Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein. Both said the move undermines any potential for diplomacy.
- Despite the fresh sanctions, secretary of state Mike Pompeo maintained a desire for diplomacy. He said in a statement: “The United States continues to seek a diplomatic solution that addresses the Iranian regime’s destructive behavior. The only path forward is a comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of its threats.”
- Zarif, by having rapport with the Obama administration and influence with Khamenei, is credited with negotiating the 2015 accord meant to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.
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Key background: The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iran multiple times since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal. As the sanctions crippled Iran’s economy, tensions have steadily escalated between Iran and the West. In May and June, two different oil tanker attacks occurred off Iran’s coast. Iran denied involvement, but the U.S. blamed the nation for both incidents. When Iran downed a U.S. Navy drone in June, the incident led to Iran severing diplomatic ties with America. Meanwhile, Iran announced in July that it exceeded the limit of enriched uranium in the Obama-era nuclear deal but insisted it would use the material for peaceful purposes only. Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker and claims it captured CIA spies, also in July, further amped up tensions that show no sign of easing.
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