Iran's Zarif calls US Treasury 'a jail warden' in angry tweet

Iran's Zarif calls US Treasury 'a jail warden'
in angry tweet
3 min read
05 September, 2019
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif described the US Treasury as nothing more than a 'jail warden', a day after Washington imposed tough new sanctions.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that US Treasury is a 'jail warden' [Getty]

Iran's foreign minister described the US Treasury as "nothing more than a jail warden", a day after tough new sanctions were imposed on an Iranian shipping network which Washington accuses of selling millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian regime.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted Thursday: "OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of U.S. Treasury) is nothing more than a JAIL WARDEN: Ask for reprieve (waiver), get thrown in solitary for the audacity. Ask again and you might end up in the gallows."

Washington announced Wednesday that it was imposing sanctions on a shipping network it believes is tied to the Revolutionary Guards. It also offered up to $15 million for information that could disrupt the unit's finances.

The shipping network sold more than $500 million this spring, mostly in Syria, according to the Treasury Department.

After pulling from the landmark 2015 nuclear accord, the US has unilaterally threatened sanctions aimed at ending all oil sales by Iran in a bid to diminish Iran's regional influence.

"The only way to mitigate US #EconomicTerrorism (sanctions) is to decide to finally free yourself from the hangman’s noose," Zarif also tweeted. 

'Outright blackmail'

Meanwhile, the State Department confirmed Wednesday that a senior US official personally offered several million dollars to the Indian captain of an Iranian oil tanker suspected of heading to Syria.

The Financial Times reported that Brian Hook, the State Department pointman on Iran, sent emails to captain Akhilesh Kumar in which he offered "good news" of millions in US cash to live comfortably if he steered the Adrian Darya 1 to a country where it could be seized.

The Adrian Darya 1 was held for six weeks by the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on suspicion that it was set to deliver oil from Iran to its main Arab ally Syria - a violation of European Union sanctions on President Assad's iron-fisted regime.

Gibraltar released the ship, formerly called the Grace 1, on 18 August over US protests after receiving written assurances that the vessel would not head to countries sanctioned by the European Union.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif mocked Hook's initiative as he pointed to the Financial Times story.

"Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail - deliver us Iran's oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself," Zarif tweeted.

State Department chief spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hit back using Zarif's exact words, accusing Iran of "outright blackmail" with its call for $15 billion from European powers to be paid back from Iran's future oil sales.

Iran says that, if it receives the credit line, it will come back into full compliance with a 2015 nuclear accord from which US President Donald Trump withdrew.

The Adrian Daya 1 has been elusive since sailing off from Gibraltar, with monitors reporting that it has been moving in the eastern Mediterranean near Lebanon.

Tensions between arch-enemies Iran and the US have soared ever since Washington stepped up its campaign of "maximum pressure" against Tehran and reimposed sanctions after leaving the nuclear deal last year.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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