Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced his “displeasure” in a recent phone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry over the US government targeting more than two dozen companies and people last week for evading sanctions against Iran.
The move came several weeks after Tehran and world powers signed an interim nuclear deal in Geneva in late November.
“Following the recent developments regarding the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action [Geneva agreement], the US secretary of state had a phone call with Dr. Zarif, and our country’s ministry of foreign affairs conveyed Iran’s displeasure,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday carried by the country’s Tasnim News Agency.
On Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister said that his country would continue nuclear negotiations with world powers despite the move.
The US action froze American assets of firms in Panama, Singapore, Ukraine and elsewhere for maintaining covert business with Iran’s national tanker company. Other companies involved directly in the proliferation of material useful for weapons of mass destruction also were blacklisted from the US market. American citizens are banned from any transactions with the listed individuals and firms.
The announcement by the Treasury and State departments last week came as the administration was furiously lobbying lawmakers to refrain from any new package of sanctions on Iran after last month’s interim nuclear agreement in Geneva. As part of the deal, the US agreed to no new nuclear-related financial penalties against Tehran for six months, and Zarif warned that any such action could kill the diplomatic effort.
In a Q&A with The Washington Post on Monday, Zarif reiterated Iran was “committed to ensuring that the process that we started — and it required a lot of courage on our side to reach this agreement — will lead to a satisfactory conclusion that would address the requirements as stated in the [Geneva interim] agreement.”
He added, however, that “if statements are made that run counter to the very aim of the negotiations, coming from within the [Obama] administration, then that becomes extremely counterproductive.”
Zarif told The Washington Post that he’s spoken to Kerry and other P5+1 representatives by phone several times since the US State and Treasury departments implemented the measures.