The U.S. has imposed financial sanctions on Iran’s top diplomat, escalating tensions between the two countries.
Mohammad Javad Zarif is known for his negotiations with former Secretary of State John Kerry that ended in a nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran. Zarif is also known for screaming at Kerry so loudly that bodyguards for both entered the room to see what was going on.
Sanctions couldn’t happen to a more smug, self-righteous religious fanatic than Zarif.
The highly unusual action of penalizing the top diplomat of another nation comes a month after President Donald Trump signed an executive order placing sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Zarif, in response to the sanctioning, tweeted: “It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran.”
Zarif’s fanaticism boiled over on several occasions when negotiating the nuclear agreement with Kerry. He was being so obstreperous with his American counterpart that his boss, Ayatollah Khamenei, ordered him to tone it down.
Reports about Zarif’s temper first emerged in the Iranian press last November, when the United States and Iran agreed to extend talks through June of this year.
Zarif is said to “frequently shout at Western diplomats” with such force that bodyguards have been forced to enter the negotiation room.
During one incident described by Iranian officials to the press, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, a chief western negotiator, admitted that Zarif had been shouting, and she had gotten used to it.
Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian diplomat who is also a member of the negotiating team, is reported to have said in an interview that during past negotiations in Geneva, Zarif “shouted” at Kerry and spoke to him in a manner “unprecedented” in the history of U.S. diplomacy.
The fact that Kerry sat there like a mannequin and took it speaks volumes about the surrender by Barack Obama and his secretary of state to Iran. No self-respecting American diplomat — from the lowest flunkie to the highest officeholder — should be forced to endure this kind of insulting, rude, “undiplomatic” behavior.
But Zarif had taken the mettle of his foe and found it wanting. Kerry meekly acquiesced to Zarif’s browbeating.
Zarif richly deserves the sanctions. But perhaps we should also sanction John Kerry for acting like a 98-pound weakling in the face of provocations that any other American diplomat from any other decade would never have countenanced. It shows how absolutely desperate Obama and Kerry were at getting a nuclear deal at any cost.
As it turned out, it was a cost far too high to bear.