A member of Iranian parliament’s presidium has told an Iranian news website that a proposal for impeaching foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been received by parliament’s leadership.
Zarif would be the first Islamic Republic foreign minister to be subjected to impeachment proceedings, if the proposal goes forward. The proposal carries 22 signatures; two more than needed to officially start impeachment proceedings.
So far, there is no mention of which MPs have co-sponsored the request, but it is safe to assume the group is made up of conservative members of parliament.
MP Ali-Asghar Yousefnezhad has told ISNA, a government news agency, that the impeachment proposal is based on eleven accusations, including Zarif's “improper position on money laundering”.
On November 11, Zarif had said that those who profit billions of dollars from money laundering are spending millions of it to prevent the passage of the bills requiring more financial transparency.
An international transparency watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has demanded that Iran should adhere to anti-money laundering standards and enact laws to prevent financing of terrorism. The adoption of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws by Iran can help its standing with European countries that have pledged to help Iran continue doing trade despite U.S. sanctions.
The foreign minister went on to accuse state-owned agencies that he refrained from naming, of mounting the campaign against President Hassan Rouhanis' proposed legislation known as Palermo Bills.
The comments immediately triggered a wave of enraged responses from the conservative camp dominating Iran.
Zarif was summoned for more explanations to parliament’s influential National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, forcing him to reiterate that he had not accused any state-run institution of money laundering.
But hardliners continued their harsh criticism of Zarif and rumors about his possible impeachment began to circulate last week.
Many of his colleagues and some reformists came to his defense and some government officials began disclosing “dirty money” figures to prove that the foreign minister was right to raise the issue.
The proposal said to have been tabled for Zarif’s impeachment also accuses him of “neglecting the economy in the country’s diplomacy”, appointing “inefficient ambassadors”, “neglecting the expansion of ties with Asian, African and Latin American countries”, “endangering the defense potential of the country” and “failing to ensure national interests in international agreements”.
Yousefnezhad has told ISNA that parliament’s presidium will refer the impeachment proposal to its National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.