- In letters to the heads of international organizations as well as foreign ambassadors in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi cautioned them against “the illegal measure” by the US to sanction Zarif and called on the international community to take action and prevent its negative effects on diplomacy and multilateralism.
“This move is another clear example of the US’ countless illegal acts in line with the policy of pressure against Iran, including through economic terrorism…,” he noted in the letter.
He further emphasized that sanctioning a UN member state’s foreign minister is “a blatant violation of the fundamental principles and norms of international law”, and a breach of the UN Charter, which undermines diplomacy and multilateralism.
On July 31, the US Department of State said Washington has designated Zarif for acting on behalf of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. The US president had issued an executive order on June 24, imposing sanctions on the Leader and his office and authorizing sanctions on others associated with Ayatollah Khamenei.
The senior Iranian diplomat dismissed the US move, saying that being designated by the US would not affect him since he has ho properties outside Iran.
“We know that calling for dialog & peace is an existential threat to B-Team. And since reason for designating me is my words, would ‘US persons’ need OFAC license to ‘engage’ with me by reading my writings or listening to interviews?” Zarif said in a Twitter post.
The remarks come against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump has tried to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Iranian officials, however, have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of circumventing the American bans and selling crude oil.