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Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif abruptly resigns

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has announced his resignation on his Instagram page.

“Thank you very much to the dear and honorable people of Iran over the past 67 months. I sincerely apologize for the incapacity to continue serving and all the shortcomings during the service. I thank the Iranian nation and officials,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

A post shared by Javad Zarif (@jzarif_ir) on

A deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the authenticity of Zarif’s Instagram announcement, state-run IRNA news agency reported.

There was no immediate reason offered for Zarif’s move.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency also said “some sources have confirmed Zarif’s resignation,” but it was not clear whether President Hassan Rohani would accept it.

As foreign minister, Zarif led the Iranian team during negotiations with P5+1 countries — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany — which resulted in the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Under the deal, Iran pledged to curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.

But Zarif came under attack by hardliners in Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in May and reimposed sanctions.

Trump called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and said his administration had acted decisively to confront it.

The other signatories to the nuclear deal have been working to keep it alive and have resisted U.S. pressure to abandon the accord.

Top Iranian officials, including Rohani, have said that the Islamic Republic is facing its toughest economic situation in 40 years, at least partially due to the resumption of U.S. sanctions.

Zarif has served as Iran’s top diplomat since August 2013, when he replaced Ali Akbar Salehi, the current head of Atomic Organization of Iran.