- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2019

Javad Zarif, Iran’s top diplomat and one of the key architects of the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers, is stepping down from his post.

Mr. Zarif announced his resignation as foreign minister on social media on Monday, however it remains unclear whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would accept his planned departure.

“I am apologizing you for all the shortcomings … in the past years during my time as foreign minister … I thank the Iranian nation and officials,” Mr. Zarif posted on his Instagram page. In the social media post, Mr. Zarif did not provide any details as to what drove his abrupt departure.

He also did not make any reference to the to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPoA. The Trump administration pulled the U.S. from the landmark nuclear pact last May.

Mr. Zarif led the Iranian negotiations with then-Secretary of State John Kerry and representatives from China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and Germany — known as the P5+1 consortium — to forge the nuclear pact between the U.S. and Iran, in the first break in diplomatic relations between the two countries since 1979.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, the Trump administration has worked to drive Tehran’s oil exports to zero, as part of the White House’s re-implementation of global sanctions rolled back in exchange for curbs on Iran’s suspect nuclear programs under the deal.

A day before his resignation, Mr. Zarif lambasted the American decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying it was a failure of Washington’s unilateral foreign policies under Mr. Trump.

“Unilateralism has always been among the U.S. options (at the international level),” he said during a speech in Tehran on Sunday. Through its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Mr. Zarif said the U.S. was not only rebuffing Tehran’s desire for normalized relations with the West, but also those of its European Union allies, state-run Tasnim News Agency reported.

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