(Persia Digest) - Former Head of Africa Desk at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes: “Iran hawks in Trump’s administration aim to curtail Iranian diplomacy. A large number of countries and media outlets may prefer not to conduct bilateral discussions or interviews with him to avoid secondary sanctions.”

On Wednesday, the US placed the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, on its list of sanctions. Can this have a negative outcome on the diplomatic maneuverability of the Islamic Republic under Trump’s maximum pressure policy?

Former Head of Africa Desk at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Javid Ghorbanoghli, told Persia Digest (PD) in an interview: “US sanctions on Mr Zarif are likely to affect his personal and diplomatic activities, because a large number of countries and media outlets may prefer not to conduct bilateral discussions or interviews with him to avoid secondary sanctions.”

He reiterated: “To use the JCPOA nuclear deal, many countries limited their trade with Iran although the US withdrawal from the deal and ensuing sanctions were unilateral. But sanctioning Zarif as a foreign minister and the symbol of diplomacy to avoid war is unprecedented. This is a great victory for Iran showing that maximum pressure has failed and the US is resorting to such actions.”

The former Iranian diplomat reiterated: “Zarif’s access to certain social media such as Twitter many not be affected; although the US may take the next step in limiting his access to these.”


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Ghorbanoghli stated that US sanctions on Zarif were in line with its maximum pressure policy, adding: “Although I do not intend to deny Trump’s role in this, but I believe the main actions were taken by hawks around him, the Zionist AIPAC lobby, and leaders of certain regional countries. Their aim was to limit Iran’s maneuvering abilities, because Zarif enjoys the power of persuasion in bilateral negotiations and interviews due to his expertise in international law.”

Speaking on whether sanctioning Zarif is contrary to pursuing unconditional talks, he said: “I believe Trump still wants to talk. Sanctioning Zarif does not mean choosing the military option. However, this cannot be neglected.”


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To the question of whether Zarif will act as Iran’s foreign minister in the event of negotiations, Ghorbanoghli said: “Iran will not start discussions under the prevailing situation. Hawks who wanted sanctions imposed on Zarif wanted to set the scenario for Iran to say no to dialogue. Iran has attempted to keep the JCPOA by pursuing a moderate policy. If these achievements are to be salvaged, one must keep an eye out for the policies of Trump’s entourage to radicalize the Iranian front.”

Former Head of Africa Desk at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated: “Considering all these issues, I do not believe the US is intending to show there is no difference between the moderate and extremist forces in the Islamic Republic. The United States sees the Islamic Republic as an integrated power where the fundamentalists hold the key leverage.”

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