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Iranian president confirms FM resignation but will not accept it

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran – The office of Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Tuesday confirmed the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif however said the president would not accept it.

“Zarif had carried out his work courageously and would continue to do so.

“Zarif will not be alone and we [the government] will all support him,’’ the president’s office said on its Instagram page.

Zarif unexpectedly announced that he would be stepping down from the post via an Instagram post on Monday.

Local observers expressed surprise at the timing of the announcement, shortly before midnight, and predicted that Rowhani would reject it.

The reasons for his resignation were hotly disputed on social media, with some claiming he had had enough of constant criticism from hardliners of the 2015 nuclear deal he negotiated.

He also debunked the government’s policy of rapprochement with the West.

Others said that he had been angered by his exclusion from a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday.

All agreed that his resignation would mean a swift end to the nuclear deal and lifted sanctions in return for Tehran reducing its nuclear weapons capabilities and which was already dealt a blow when the U.S. pulled out in 2018.

Its withdrawal and reimposition of sanctions triggered further criticism of Zarif within Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. had taken note of Zarif’s resignation.

“We’ll see if it sticks, either way, he and Hassan Rouhani are just front men for a corrupt religious mafia.

“We know Ayatollah Ali Khamanei makes all final decisions.

“Our policy is unchanged, the regime must behave like a normal country and respect its people,’’ Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

Observers in Tehran believe Rowhani would not be able to replace Zarif with someone of the same standing and experience.

Neither his deputy Abbas Araghchi nor Ali-Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s nuclear agency, have the same charisma as the foreign minister, whose eloquence nor had fluent English been a relief to Western negotiators.

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