Iranian Foreign Minister Tenders Surprise Resignation; Nuke Deal Hangs In Balance
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the “moderate” face of the Islamic regime who was instrumental in forging the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, resigned unexpectedly Monday night. “Many thanks for the generosity of the dear and brave people of Iran and its authorities over the past 67 months. I sincerely apologize for the inability to continue serving and for all the shortcomings during my service. Be happy and worthy,” the longtime top diplomat wrote on his Instagram page. No immediate reason was provided for the decision—which needs to be accepted by President Hassan Rouhani—thereby fueling speculation of internal fighting in Tehran possibly over whether to nix the atomic accord and jump-start nuclear-related activities. The move comes on the backdrop of an Israeli intelligence assessment that Iran is “making preparations” for a dash to the bomb and has renewed production of centrifuges on an “industrial” scale while taking steps to accelerate uranium enrichment. In response to the news, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to Zarif and Rouhani as “front men for a corrupt religious mafia,” adding that “[American] policy is unchanged—the regime must behave like a normal country and respect its people.” President Donald Trump last May withdrew from the nuclear pact and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, although other parties to the agreement—Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China—are trying to salvage it by devising mechanisms to preserve the economic benefits Iran received in exchange for curbing its atomic program.