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Iranian foreign minister denounces US policies in UN visit

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during a joint press conference with U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond in Shahrbani Palace. (Hamed Malekpour/Wikimedia)

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

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States is engaging in “economic terrorism” regarding the imposition of sanctions and that it “shot itself in the foot” when it withdrew from the nuclear accord with Iran.

Speaking from the rostrum at the UN on July 17, Zarif said the unilateral sanctions that President Donald Trump put into force “deliberately target innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives.”

Zarif furthermore told Bloomberg Television that the burden fell on Trump to ease tensions and pushed back on the possibility that the 2015 nuclear accord, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, would be renegotiated.

“You don’t buy a horse twice,” he told Bloomberg.

After pulling out of the multinational accord in 2018, the United States imposed wide-ranging, restrictive measures and has sought to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero, moves that have devastated the Iranian economy.

The 2015 accord provided Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

U.S. allies France, Britain, and Germany — all parties to the accord — have attempted to bring Trump back into the deal and have devised a complicated financial barter plan to help alleviate Iran’s economic woes.

However, Trump has sought to reduce Shi’ite Iran’s regional influence in favor of Sunni-led allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Zarif also told reporters at the UN that U.S. travel restrictions on the Iranian diplomatic corps and their families in New York were “basically inhuman.”

They may only travel between four destinations: the UN, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence, and John F. Kennedy Airport.

Reuters quoted an unnamed State Department official who said the United States had acted “in a manner that is fully consistent” under its 1947 agreement with the UN.