Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, an ally of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, unexpectedly announced he was stepping down in a social media post on Monday.
“I am apologising you for all the shortcomings … in the past years during my time as foreign minister … I thank the Iranian nation and officials,” the 59-year-old diplomat wrote on Instagram according to the translation provided by the Reuters news agency.
Zarif traveled to the US for his education as a teenager and studied international relations in California and Colorado, eventually obtaining a doctorate from the University of Denver. He then entered the Iranian diplomatic corps and was appointed foreign minister in 2013.
While the reasons for his resignation were not immediately clear, both Zarif and President Rouhani have been facing a storm of criticism from Iranian hardliners over the partial breakdown of a nuclear deal with the West and return of sanctions.
Read more: Iranians feel the pressure of new US sanctions
Zarif served as one of the main architects of the 2015 accord which involved the US, UK, France, and Germany, as well as Russia and China. The deal imposes limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing the sanctions on the Iranian economy.
With Donald Trump claiming the office of president in 2017, however, Washington has attempted to dismantle the deal and force other participants to re-impose economic restrictions on Iran. The ongoing currency crisis in Iran has been fueling anger against Rouhani and his allies.
dj/jm (AFP, Reuters)
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