Iran brands Washington ‘childish’ and ‘afraid’ after fresh sanctions

President Rouhani brands Washington ‘childish’ and ‘afraid’ after the US imposes new punishing sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister

  • Iran accused the US of ‘childish behaviour’ over fresh sanction its top diplomat
  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s US assets frozen and travel curtailed
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Washington was ‘afraid’ of the minister 
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said move due to Zarif’s ‘reckless agenda’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today accused the United States of ‘childish behaviour’ over Washington’s sanctioning of Iran’s foreign minister.

In the latest escalation of tensions between the two countries, the US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. 

Washington has previously proposed unconditional talks with Tehran.

The sanctions freeze any of Zarif’s assets in the United States or controlled by US organisations and the government will also seek to curtail the diplomat’s international travel. 

Rouhani said in remarks broadcast live on state television: ‘They [Americans] are resorting to childish behaviour…They were claiming every day ”We want to talk, with no preconditions”…and then they sanction the foreign minister. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani branded the US ‘childish’ for its latest sanctions on one of its top ranking officials. He is pictured during a cabinet meeting in Tehran yesterday

‘This means they have lost the power of rational thought.’

Rouhani went on to say that the sanctions showed Washington is ‘afraid’ of Iran’s top diplomat.

‘They are afraid of our foreign minister’s interviews,’ Rouhani said in a televised speech, referring to a recent round of interviews Zarif gave to foreign media in New York.

Zarif has been at the heart of Iran’s attempt to defuse tensions with the United States and other countries over its controversial nuclear power industry, which Washington says is cover for a secret weapons program. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move was made as the diplomat was implementing a ‘reckless agenda’.

He said in a statement: ‘Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], and is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s assets in the US have been frozen and his international travel curtained as part of new sanctions on Iranian figures 

‘The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behaviour is completely unacceptable.’

The Islamic Republic’s president added during a visit to the northwestern city of Tabriz that the US was not ‘thinking wisely’. 

‘It is completely clear that the foundations of the White House have been shaken by the words and logic of an informed, devoted and diplomatic individual,’ he said.

‘They are doing childish things now. Maybe there’s no better way to describe (the sanctions) but childish.

‘Our enemies are so helpless that they have lost the ability to act and think wisely.’

Rouhani was speaking after Washington announced it was designating Zarif under sanctions that would freeze any of his assets.

President Donald Trump administration has impsed sanction directly on Iran’s foreign minister and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Despite the sanctions in place, he is expected to still be able to continue to visit the United Nations in New York, albeit under tight restrictions. 

Zarif responded to the US sanctions on Twitter, saying: ‘The US’ reason for designating me is that I am Iran’s “primary spokesperson around the world” Is the truth really that painful? 

‘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.’ 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he wanted to travel to Tehran for talks but the regime rejected his offer, a suggestion Zaif yesterday branded as a ‘hypocritical gesture’.

Last month President Trump imposed sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hard-hitting restrictions were put in place on Khamenei’s travel by banning him from entering the US and any of his finances in the country were targeted.

Four tankers were sabotaged around the Strait of Hormuz in May, before another two came under attack in June, which the UK and US blamed on Iran

But the move was mocked by Iran as the reclusive leader rarely leaves his country and the business empire he controls, known as Setad, has few dealings with international banks.

Earlier this week Rouhani wrote an open letter to Britain’s new prime minister Boris Johnson calling for closer ties.

It came as the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said the country had enriched 24 tonnes of uranium since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers – an agreement Trump withdrew from last year. 

The downing of a US drone and attacks on six oil tankers passing through the Straits of Hormuz have only heightened tensions between Iran and the West.

Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz this month after the British navy helped seize an Iranian supertanker loaded with crude oil near Gibraltar.

In response a second Royal Navy warship arrived in the Persian Gulf on Sunday night to accompany British-flagged ships passing through the contentious waterway. 

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