RNA - “The UK’s move in the Strait of Gibraltar is a case of piracy,” Zarif said today, during his press conference in Tehran on the occasion of the National Journalists Day, adding, “The European Union used to be opposed to extra-territorial sanctions. This vessel was not bound for a destination that has been designated by their sanctions. What the UK has done is aiding and abetting the US economic terrorism.”
The British naval forces seized Supertanker Grace 1 on July 4 on the allegation that it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of the EU’s unilateral sanctions on the Arab country.
Reiterating that Iran takes London’s seizure of the vessel carrying Iranian oil in the Strait of Gibraltar as piracy, Zarif condemned Britain’s move as a supportive measure for Washington’s policy of depriving the Iranian nation of their foreign revenues.
“The US is preventing the delivery of food and medicine to the people of Iran and the UK is an accomplice in this crime,” he said, warning, “These moves will have serious consequences and repercussions.”
“The US is responsible for stirring tensions in the Persian Gulf and the world,” the Iranian diplomatic chief underlined.
“The US is fueling fire and to calm tensions it is just the US which must stop spearing fire. Whenever the US has entered into the Persian Gulf it has brought in nothing but violence and war,” the top Iranian diplomat said.
He blamed Americans for repeating the same mistakes of the past in the region, describing it very unwise for the White House to fall in traps similar to the country’s former predicaments.
Zarif then touched upon the US sanctions against his position as the Foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, describing Washington’s move as the US failure in diplomacy and the White House’s opposition to dialogue.
Referring to Iran’s self-reliance in the fields of military and weapons, the top diplomat said, “We have never bought our security and will never do. Our security is not purchasable because it derives from our people. Our progress is also derived from our people.”
“We managed to shoot down the American drone with an Iranian-made missile. They are saying why we make [missiles]. [They must know that] they cannot stop Iranians with sanctions,” stressed the foreign minister.
Admitting the reports that he had been invited by US President Donald Trump to meet with him in the White House, Zarif said the US rulers sought to intimidate him with sanctions to accept the invitation.
“During my visit to New York, I was told that I would be sanctioned within two weeks unless I accepted the offer [to meet Trump], which I turned down,” Zarif added.
According to a report, written by Robin Wright for American magazine The New Yorker, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, and reportedly tapped by Trump as a go-between with Iran, extended the invitation to Zarif during a meeting at the residence of Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) in New York on July 15.
The US Department of Treasury on Wednesday imposed sanctions against Zarif.
Zarif, who has been Iran’s foreign minister since 2013, was the chief negotiator in the multinational nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The Trump administration said last month it was planning to impose sanctions against Iranian top diplomat.
In reaction to the decision, Zarif played down the US sanctions against him, expressing pleasure that he is considered as a "huge threat" to Washington's plots.
"The US' reason for designating me is that I am Iran's primary spokesperson around the world," Zarif wrote on his Twitter account early Thursday.
"It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran," he added, asking the US whether the truth is really painful.
"Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda," Zarif reiterated.
"We know that calling for dialog and peace is an existential threat to B-Team. And since reason for designating me is my words, would US persons need OFAC license to engage with me by reading my writings or listening to interviews?" he wrote two hours later.
Zarif had earlier told the New York Times that "everyone who knows me knows that I, or my family, do not own any property outside Iran. I personally do not even have a bank account outside Iran. Iran is my entire life and my sole commitment. So I have no personal problem with possible sanctions".
"The only impact--and possibly the sole objective--of a possible designation would be to limit my ability to communicate. And I doubt that would serve anyone. Certainly, it would limit the possibility of informed decision making in Washington," he added.
Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee on Sunday condemned the US move to impose sanctions on Zarif, and said that Washington violated the diplomatic regulations of the world with its “risible” measure.
Addressing a weekly press conference, Rabiyee said the imposition of sanctions on Zarif was in breach of all diplomatic regulations and an “unprecedented development” in the history of global diplomacy.
“Is it anything but risible for a government to constantly claim to be open to negotiation and then place sanctions on the foreign minister of the very country that it invites to talks?” Rabiei asked. “They invite him (Zarif) to talks in a meeting with a Senator and then they place sanctions on him!”
According to Fars News Agancy, the spokesman said Iran had one single government represented by its officials. He said the sanctions against Zarif were meant to insinuate otherwise.
After imposing the sanctions on Zarif, US administration officials attempted to portray the Iranian foreign minister as not having real decision making power. This came as Zarif had been invited for talks at the Oval Office in the meeting with Paul. The Iranian foreign minister reportedly dismissed such a potential meeting at the time merely as a photo op for Trump, the spokesman said.
Rabiyee stressed that “attacking” Zarif with the sanctions equaled “attacking the foundations of the Iranian nation-state”.
“America shall know that in the opinion of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Zarif is [Iran’s] chief of foreign policy, chief of public diplomacy, and chief of security diplomacy, and that all diplomatic pathways must go through him.”