Iran’s foreign minister has announced his resignation, an abrupt departure that could further undermine the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Western powers.
In a message posted to his Instagram account, Mohammad Javad Zarif said he wanted to apologize for not being able to continue, but gave no further explanation for his resignation. Early on February 26, there was no indication that President Hassan Rohani had formally accepted Zarif's resignation.
"Thank you very much to the dear and honorable people of Iran over the past 67 months," Zarif wrote in the Instagram post. "I sincerely apologize for the incapacity to continue serving and all the shortcomings during the service. I thank the Iranian nation and officials."
A deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the authenticity of Zarif's Instagram announcement, state-run IRNA news agency reported. Iran's semiofficial Tasnim news agency also said "some sources have confirmed Zarif's resignation," but it was not clear whether President Hassan Rohani would accept it.
Zarif, who has served as Iran's top diplomat since August 2013, headed the Iranian negotiation team that led to the 2015 agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal reached with the United States, Germany, Russia, China, Britain, and, France.
The deal itself has been under severe strain, despite a United Nations watchdog’s conclusions that Tehran remains in compliance.
U.S. President Donald Trump last year announced Washington was pulling out of the deal, and later moved to reimpose sanctions on Tehran. In his decision, Trump called Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terror" and said his administration had acted decisively to confront it.
Zarif came under attack from hard-line conservatives in Iran after Trump pulled out of the agreement.
The other signatories to the nuclear deal have been working to keep it alive and have resisted U.S. pressure to abandon the accord.
Top Iranian officials, including Rohani, have said that the Islamic Republic is facing its toughest economic situation in 40 years, at least partially due to the resumption of U.S. sanctions.
Zarif replaced Ali Akbar Salehi, the current head of the Atomic Organization of Iran.
If Rohani does accept Zarif's resignation, it's not immediately clear who would assume the post.