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U.S. sanctions Iran's foreign minister

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 1, 2019 - Duration: 01:32s

U.S. sanctions Iran's foreign minister

The Trump administration imposes sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, targeting the country's top spokesman and potentially hurting chances of diplomatic talks amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Eve Johnson reports.

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U.S. sanctions Iran's foreign minister

The U.S took aim at Iran's top spokesman on Wednesday (July 31), slapping sanctions on Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, blocking any property or interests he has in the U.S. Tensions between the two countries have been on the rise ever since Trump backed out of a nuclear deal with Tehran last year and ramped up economic sanctions.

And a recent series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf - which the US blames on Iran - have sparked fears of a direct conflict.

Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said the sanctions were meant to send Iran a clear signal about its recent behavior.

But Zarif quickly blew off the news, tweeting that he didn't have any property outside of Iran and thanking the U.S. for considering him such a big threat.

Zarif was educated in the U.S. and helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear arms activities.

Diplomats warn that sanctioning the foreign minister could make any already dangerous situation in the Gulf even worse.

A senior official has said the president is open to negotiations with Iran but wants to deal directly with a key decision maker.

But there is a chance for diplomacy on the horizon.

The UN General Assembly will meet in September and there's a possibility the U.S. will allow Zarif to attend, giving the two sides an opportunity to talk through some of their differences on the sidelines.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that until a deal is reached the U.S. will keep up its campaign of maximum pressure and isolation.

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