Zarif Sanctioned: Does Trump Still Want Talks With Iran?

Matthew Petti

Matthew Petti

Iran, Middle East

President Donald Trump says he wants to talk to Iran, but hawkish elements in the Trump administration have closed yet another avenue to negotiations.

Zarif Sanctioned: Does Trump Still Want Talks With Iran?

President Donald Trump says he wants to talk to Iran, but hawkish elements in the Trump administration have closed yet another avenue to negotiations, putting economic sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, late Wednesday. Meanwhile, the hardline Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has forged a role for himself in the administration’s Iran policy—and emerged as a potential contender for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s job.

“This is simply absurd. It's the same as someone claiming to want to win the World Cup, and to prove it they cut off their own legs and sanction FIFA,” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin banned Zarif from doing business in America or with Americans. He cited Executive Order 13876, signed by Trump on June 24, to block anyone “appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran or the SLO [Supreme Leader’s Office] to a position as a state official of Iran, or as the head of any entity” from the U.S. economy.

Trump has the authority to do this because U.S.-Iranian relations have been in a declared “state of emergency” since 1995.

The U.S. Treasury also claimed that the Iranian foreign ministry “coordinates with one of the Iranian regime’s most nefarious state entities,” the elite Qods (Jerusalem) Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Trump administration declared the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group in April 2019—”the first time that we had sanctioned the military of another country,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Project.

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