Rouhani: U.S. Sanctions on Foreign Minister ‘Childish’

TEHRAN, Iran (AP/Reuters) -
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a Cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday. (Official President website/Handout via Reuters)

Iran’s president said Thursday that U.S. financial sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister are “childish” and a barrier to diplomacy.

Hassan Rouhani’s remarks came after the Trump administration announced it imposed financial sanctions on Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as part of its escalating campaign of pressure against the Islamic Republic.

The highly unusual action of penalizing another nation’s top diplomat followed President Donald Trump’s executive order placing sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Rouhani said that the U.S. has “started doing childish things.”

He said U.S. officials “claim to want to negotiate with Iran without any pre-conditions, and then they put sanctions” on Zarif.

Last year, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and ramped up sanctions to put pressure on Iran’s economy.

In recent months bilateral relations have worsened significantly after attacks on tankers in the Gulf that the United States blames on Iran, a charge denied by Tehran, and Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone.

“A country which believes it’s powerful and a world superpower is afraid of our foreign minister’s interviews,” Rouhani said in an apparent reference to numerous interviews Zarif gave to U.S. media when he visited New York for a United Nations meeting last month.

“The pillars of the White House are made to tremble by the words and the logic of a knowledgeable and self-sacrificing man,” Rouhani said. Zarif lived in the United States from the age of 17 as a student of international relations in San Francisco and Denver, and subsequently as a diplomat at the United Nations in New York, where he was the Iranian ambassador from 2002 to 2007.