Following imposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on July 31, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described him as “chief apologist” for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Pompeo tweeted that Zarif is “just as complicit in the regime’s outlaw behavior as the rest of @khamenei_ir’s mafia.”
This echoed earlier remarks by the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin when he announced the sanctions. “Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world. The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable,” said Mnuchin.
Sanctioning Zarif and harsh words by Pompeo and Mnuchin come amid high tensions and a sense of failure of diplomacy to start some sort of negotiations between the United States and the Islamic Republic.
Since May 2018, the U.S. has laid out a 12-point list of demands from Iran, chief among them renegotiating the 2015 nuclear agreement, curbing Iran’s ballistic missile program and restraining Iran’s interventions in other regional countries. To force Iran to respond, the U.S. has imposed crippling economic sanctions on Tehran.
So far, Iran has vowed to resist U.S. pressure and one of it tactics is pressing European powers to ignore U.S. sanctions and help Iran in oil trade and international banking.
The sanctions announced by the U.S. Treasury impacts Zarif’s financial assets and dealings and do not mention freedom of travel, which would create complicated issues with dozens of countries around the world.