US Imposes Sanctions On Iranian Foreign Minister Amid Rising Tensions

Iranian Foreign Minister
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrives for a meeting at United Nations Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York (Photo: Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

To put added pressure on Iran, the United States has now placed sanctions on yet another Iranian official. The White House announced on Wednesday that it has placed sanctions on the country's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The move comes at a time of high tensions between both nations, sparking fears that things may get out of hand.

According to the US Treasury Department, an investigation has found that Zarif has been involved, directly or indirectly, with the actions of the country's Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei. The United States had placed sanctioned on the Supreme Leader in June.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned in a statement to the press that the foreign minister is not innocent to the actions of the country's Supreme Leader.

The administration believes that Zarif is not just a diplomatic arm of the Islamic republic but also a tool used by the government to advance the destabilizing policies of its Supreme Leader.

Following news of the sanctions, Zarif immediately responded on social media. The Iranian foreign minister sarcastically thanked the United States for considering him to be a "huge threat." Zarif further pointed out that the sanctions are of no inconvenience to him or his family given that they do not possess any assets or interest in the United States.

Despite Zarif's claims of having no assets in the country, the Treasury Department announced that they will be freezing any property or assets that are linked to Zarif.

The agency mentioned that it will be blocking these interests, even those controlled by US persons on behalf of the foreign minister.

The Treasury Department also issued a warning to any foreign financial institution not to conduct business or facilitate in any transactions for or on behalf of Zarif.

Those who found guilty will apparently be facing punishments directly from the US government.

Tensions between the United States and Iran erupted in May of last year after the US walked away from the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. Not long after, the US reimposed its energy and financial sanctions on the country. In response, Iran suspended some of its commitments under the deal, while also threatening to further develop its nuclear program.

In June, the US imposed various other sanctions against Iran. US President Donald Trump mentioned that the move was in response to Iran's aggressive behavior, including the shooting down of a US drone. The US has also begun mobilizing its naval fleet and sending its carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, to the Persian Gulf.  

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