Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, the urbane, US-educated architect of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, on Monday unexpectedly announced his resignation on Instagram.
“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,” he wrote on Instagram.
He gave no specific reasons for his decision.
Unconfirmed media reports indicated that he resigned over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Tehran on Monday.
Zarif played the lead role in striking the deal under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions.
He came under attack from anti-Western hardliners in Iran after the US pulled out of the agreement in May last year, reimposing sanctions on Iran’s economy and its lifeblood oil industry that were lifted under the deal.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a post on Twitter, dismissed Zarif and Rouhani as “front men for a corrupt religious mafia.”
“Our policy is unchanged — the regime must behave like a normal country and respect its people,” Pompeo said.
The announcement of the resignation was confirmed by Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman and UN mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi.
However, there was no immediate word on whether Rouhani would accept it.
Several lawmakers and politicians took to social media calling on the pragmatist Rouhani to reject the resignation, saying that it would not serve national interests and would empower hardliners in Iran’s faction-ridden clerical establishment.
Born in 1960, Zarif lived in the US from the age of 17 as a student in San Francisco and Denver, and subsequently as a diplomat to the UN in New York, where he served as Iranian ambassador from 2002 to 2007.
He was appointed minister of foreign affairs in August 2013 after Rouhani won the presidency in a landslide on a promise to open up Iran to the outside world.
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