US sanctions Iran's foreign minister
The US on Wednesday (July 31st) imposed sanctions against Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, effectively slamming the door on the country's top diplomat, AFP reported.
The sanctions freeze any of Zarif's assets in the US or that are controlled by US entities, the government announced, saying it also will curtail his international travel.
"Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader, and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world. The US is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
In addition to attempting to freeze assets, Washington will also squeeze Zarif's ability to function as a globe-trotting diplomat. He is expected to be able to continue to visit the UN in New York, albeit under tight restrictions.
"The US will continue to uphold our obligations," the administration official said.
Zarif has been at the heart of complex talks with foreign capitals over Iran's nuclear power industry, which Tehran says is peaceful, but Washington and regional allies insist is cover for a secret weapons programme.
Also on Wednesday, the US said it was extending waivers for three civilian nuclear projects in Iran, despite Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
"This is a short 90-day extension," said White House National Security Advisor John Bolton.
"We are watching those nuclear activities very, very closely, they remain under daily scrutiny," he told Fox Business.
The projects include the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Arak heavy water reactor -- which has been modified under the supervision of the international community to render it impossible to produce plutonium for military use -- and the Fordow fuel enrichment plant.