US imposes curbs on Iran top minister, tension rises

DUBAI, August 1 

Iran accused the United States on Thursday of “childish behaviour” driven by fear after Washington imposed sanctions on its foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, fanning tensions between two foes at loggerheads over Gulf shipping and Iran’s nuclear programme.

Fears of a Middle East war with global repercussions have risen since the United States ditched world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year and revived sanctions on Tehran.

The Islamic Republic has retaliated by resuming uranium enrichment seen in the West seen as a potential conduit to developing atomic bombs. Iran denies having any such objective.

European parties to the nuclear pact have called for diplomacy to defuse the crisis, but Tehran and Washington have taken hard lines and on Wednesday the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister — a likely further blow to any chances for troubleshooting dialogue.

“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 said on state television.

Zarif, a pivotal player in the nuclear deal who was educated and lived for years in the United States, dismissed the action and said it would not affect him as he had no property or other interests in America. — Reuters

‘A stern message’ 

Zarif is being sanctioned because he implements the reckless agenda of the Supreme Leader. We are sending a stern message. — Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary 

‘Childish behaviour’

Foundations of the White House have been shaken by the words and logic of Zarif. They are doing childish things now. — Hassan Rouhani, Iranian President

Won't stop working with Zarif: EU  

The European Union said on Thursday it regrets the US decision to impose sanctions against Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and vowed to continue working with him. Zarif has been at the heart of complex talks with foreign capitals over Iran's nuclear power industry.