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Iran top diplomat, a political moderate, resigns

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, a relatively moderate politician who played a major role in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, resigned on Monday, according to a post he made on his Instagram account.

Zarif’s resignation was subsequently confirmed by Iran’s state-run news agency, IRNA. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani still needs to accept Zarif’s resignation. 

While President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear accord, Zarif, 59, had been working closely with European nations to keep the deal alive in some form. His departure throws that into question. 

“I sincerely apologize for the incapacity to continue serving and all the shortcomings during the service,” Zarif wrote on Instagram in a somewhat strangely-worded resignation. “Be happy and upbeat,” he added in the social media post. The post included a drawing of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

No specific reason for Zarif’s departure was announced, but if he goes it will be a victory for Iran’s hardliners. Zarif has been the face of Iran’s diplomatic engagement with the world and he has long pushed for even deeper relations with the West. His departure could signal hawks within Iran’s government are ready to push back against Trump.

Following the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the accord the White House re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran last year. As Iranians braced for the full restoration of those sanctions in November, Zarif told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview that his government would be open to talking to the U.S. about a new nuclear arms accord if Washington changed its approach to the deal it exited. 

“Mutual trust is not a requirement to start negotiations – mutual respect is a requirement,” Zarif said in the wide-ranging, 45-minute interview. Zarif hinted in the interview that Iran’s government was waiting to see whether Trump would be a one-term president before deciding to completely abandon the nuclear agreement.

European nations, led by France and Germany, are trying to launch a special financial mechanism to enable Iran to keep trading with some nations despite the U.S. sanctions.

More: Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s side project: Bashing Iran, in Poland

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In an interview with USA TODAY, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talked about U.S.-Iran relations and the Iran nuclear deal
Neale Haynes and Jasper Colt, USA TODAY

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/02/25/javad-zarif-iran-top-diplomat-political-moderate-resigns/2984007002/


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