(JTA) — The Trump administration sanctioned Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister who led the negotiations with the United States and other major powers that led to the Iran nuclear deal.
The U.S. Treasury release Wednesday cited Zarif’s role in advancing the agenda of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, whom the U.S. sanctioned last month.
Zarif on Twitter scoffed at the sanctions. “The US’ reason for designating me is that I am Iran’s ‘primary spokesperson around the world’,” he said. “It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran. Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.”
U.S. sanctions target any assets that a designee has that may come under U.S. control.
The recent U.S. sanctioning of Khamenei as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps are seen as unprecedented in their scope; targets for sanctions generally are individuals and businesses, not government leaders or branches.
President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran deal negotiated by his predecessor, President Barack Obama. The principal negotiators were Zarif and his then-U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry.
The deal swapped sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program. Trump has reimposed most of the sanctions, although other powers continue to trade with Iran. Iran has in recent weeks retaliated by violating some terms of the deal, including enriched uranium stockpile limits.
Trump has threatened to prosecute Kerry based on reports that Kerry has continued to communicate with Zarif. Kerry had denied it.