TEHRAN – Iran’s president has criticized Trump’s new US sanctions against the foreign minister. Hassan Rouhani said they are “childish” and a barrier to diplomacy.
The Iranian president’s speech comes after Washington imposes financial sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as part of his pressure campaign against Tehran.
The highly unusual action of penalizing another nation’s top diplomat was taken following Trump’s executive order which also imposed sanctions against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“They started doing childish things,” Rouhani said in a speech in Azerbaijan province. “Every day they claim, ‘We want to negotiate with Iran, without any preconditions.’ And then they impose sanctions on the foreign minister.”
The European Union lamented US sanctions against Zarif and said it would continue to contact him, regardless of Washington’s action.
“We will continue to work with Zarif, Iran’s top diplomat, and in view of the importance of maintaining diplomatic channels,” European Commission spokesman Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela said in Brussels.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “maximum restraint at all levels” and said he delivered this message to the leaders publicly and privately.
“A small miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation,” warned the UN chief.
Guterres urged all parties to respect freedom of navigation on the Hurmuz Strait and adjacent waterways, saying that “the last thing the world needs is a major Gulf confrontation that will have devastating implications for global security and global economy.”
The tension between the two countries has been increasing. Trump abandoned the nuclear deal with European powers, Russia and China, which called for an end to sanctions against Tehran in exchange for assurances that the Persian nuclear program would be peaceful. Washington has also imposed sanctions against Iran.
Tehran then called for action from other countries to prevent sanctions from affecting its economy and called into question the possibility of no longer complying with the nuclear agreement’s uranium enrichment limits.
The US has increased its military presence in the Middle East by citing an “Iranian threat” and Tehran’s alleged intention to build nuclear weapons.
Iran has repeatedly stated that it does not aim to build nuclear weapons. The Iranian chancellor has already made the following statement: “If we had been interested in developing nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do so long ago.”