Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on May 8, 2019. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Latest Proof Trump 'Unwilling and Incapable' of Engaging in Peace Talks as US Sanctions Iran's Top Diplomat

"Again, President Trump has chosen an action to push Iran away from the negotiating table, isolate America on the world stage, and take diplomatic options off the table."

Jake Johnson

In a move analysts characterized as a further indication that U.S. President Donald Trump's recent diplomatic overtures toward Iran were completely empty, the White House on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian foreign minister and top diplomat Javad Zarif.

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement that if "Trump was serious about negotiating with Iran, he would appoint a credible envoy and direct them to negotiate with Iranian diplomats rather than subjecting them to a ridiculous sanctions designation."

"Trump can't simultaneously hold out the option of credible negotiations while implementing the path to war plotted by John Bolton."
—Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council

"Instead, Trump is ensuring that there will be no serious negotiations with Iran during his tenure," said Abdi. "Once again, without a clear line to Zarif or any other Iranian officials to de-escalate tensions, the next crisis that the U.S. or Iran precipitates will once again risk war."

Trita Parsi, executive vice president at the Quincy Institute, called the sanctions "the latest evidence that the Trump administration is unwilling and incapable of engaging in diplomacy with Iran."

The sanctions against Zarif, which were first floated as a possibility in June, were announced by the Treasury Department on Wednesday.

According to the Washington Post, "The sanctions freeze all U.S. assets and prohibit any U.S. person or entity from financial dealings with Zarif, and threatens sanctions against those in other countries that deal with him."

"The sanctions also prohibit travel to the United States, which is already banned for Iranian officials," the Post reported. "Under international agreement, the United States must admit those traveling to the United Nations in their official capacity. Zarif visited the United Nations in July, although the State Department limited him to U.N. headquarters and the Iranian diplomatic mission in New York nearby."

Zarif, who was the top Iranian negotiator of the nuclear deal Trump violated last year, mocked the sanctions on Twitter.

"The U.S.' reason for designating me is that I am Iran's 'primary spokesperson around the world.' Is the truth really that painful?" Zarif tweeted. "It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran. Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda."

Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, called the sanctions the "peak of stupidity and inconsistency."

"The Americans have a strong fear of the logic of Dr. Zarif and his negotiating skills," said Mousavi.

NIAC's Abdi said the timing of the sanctions, which come amid soaring tensions between the U.K. and Iran, suggests "hawks like [national security adviser] John Bolton are trying to box in the administration and eliminate diplomatic off-ramps."

"Trump can't simultaneously hold out the option of credible negotiations while implementing the path to war plotted by John Bolton," said Abdi. "The time is running out for Trump to shift tracks, lest he be locked into the inevitable result of his failing maximum pressure strategy leading to a disastrous war."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·


Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo