U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Iran's Foreign Minister. Zarif Responds 'Thank You'

The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on Zarif for acting on behalf of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Ebrahim Noroozi,AP

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said on its website. 

The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on Zarif for acting on behalf of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

"Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader, and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. 

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Zarif responded in a tweet that the United States sanctioned him because he is a threat to its agenda. 

"The US' reason for designating me is that I am Iran's 'primary spokesperson around the world'," he wrote. "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." 

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet early on Thursday that the United States sanctioned Zarif because they fear his negotiating skills,

"The peak of stupidity and inconsistency of America's leaders is at a point where they don't recognize Dr. Zarif as being influential in Iran's policy but with the ultimate ignorance they sanction him!" Mousavi wrote. "The Americans have a strong fear of the logic of Dr. Zarif and his negotiating skills." 

Tensions have risen between the United States and Iran following U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal last year from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran.

Fears of a direct U.S.-Iranian conflict have risen since May with several attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, Iran's downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, and a plan for U.S. air strikes on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute.