Trump Administration Imposes Sanctions On Irans Foreign Minister

The Trump administration placed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday.

The action blocks Zarif from accessing the U.S. financial system and is an escalation in President Donald Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic.

Zarif “is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world. The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on the measure.

Zarif responded on Twitter within minutes.

“It has no effect on me or my family as I have no property or interests outside Iran,” he wrote. “Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.”

While officials say Trump is keen to negotiate with Tehran and does not want a war, the hardening line suggests tension will continue ― particularly given that Zarif is Iran’s top diplomat and has previously been a key interlocutor with the U.S.

“If our position is really that we want to negotiate with Iran … maybe we shouldn’t sanction their chief negotiator. Just sayin,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) posted on Twitter in response to the news.

Still, the development comes the day after officials told The Washington Post that the president will for now sustain one critical element of the 2015 global nuclear agreement with Iran despite his opposition to the deal, a potential signal of interest in dialogue. The same day, officials from the United Arab Emirates, one of Trump’s closest partners in the Middle East, met with counterparts from Iran.

Sanctioning Zarif will not affect the chance to negotiate because the Trump team does not see him as “a significant decision-maker,” an administration official said in a White House call with reporters ahead of the announcement. The minister’s function is covering up Iranian atrocities like crackdowns on the country’s LGBT community and the U.S. would like to deal with someone close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the official added.

“It has no effect on me or my family as I have no property or interests outside Iran,” Iranian Foreign Minister J



“It has no effect on me or my family as I have no property or interests outside Iran,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said of sanctions the Trump administration placed on him Wednesday.

But other governments, including America’s European allies, and outside analysts see Zarif as crucial to talks with Iran because he’s part of the more moderate wing of the government, which pushes against hard liners in the military and clergy who are wary of the outside world.

And just last month, Trump placed sanctions on Khamenei himself, so it’s unclear whom he sees as acceptable to deal with. Asked whether the sanctions on Zarif would make it impossible for him to come to the United Nations in New York, an administration official said the State Department would consider Iranian requests on a case-by-case basis and uphold past diplomatic commitments.

The United States’ confrontation with Iran has worsened this summer, boosting fears of an outright military fight. Washington blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers in May and June, and the Islamic Republic this month seized ships linked to the UAE and the United Kingdom, which captured an Iranian tanker thought to be bringing oil to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Trump has ramped up the American military presence in the Middle East and said he came close to carrying out an airstrike in Iran after the country downed a U.S. drone in June.

The president appears to be struggling with how to proceed given his competing impulses to look tough on Iran and to avoid controversial foreign interventions. “Just remember, the Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation,” he cryptically wrote on Twitter on Monday.

It’s possible that the step against Zarif ― which has a symbolic impact but limited practical effect ― is a way for him to satisfy Iran hawks at home and in friendly capitals like Tel Aviv and Riyadh while keeping the door open for diplomacy. Giving the minister a way to posture as being strong and sufficiently disliked by America could help him and other relative peaceniks in Iran’s political system too.

Yet key international players don’t seem confident in Trump’s approach, with Germany on Wednesday ruling out a role in U.S. efforts to protect ships passing by Iran, and peace activists say the administration’s approach is courting conflict, whether by accident or design.

“Either the morons in the White House have no idea what they’re doing or they know exactly what they’re doing and are determined to get their war,” Stephen Miles of the advocacy group Win Without War wrote on Twitter.

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. announces one of the largest capital projects in NYS history a 1.1B project to modernize and digitize NYPAs Niagara Power Project, The 15-year project will directly support NYs cleanenergy goals 200K jobs amp 17B in capital investments

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WFM Wang Yi of China, discussed bilateral issues, including energy and investments. Considered the situation of Uyghur Turks. Will send an observation delegation to Xinjiang upon invitation of the Chinese authorities.

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Dow Crashes as Federal Reserve Goes to War Over Interest Rates

The Dow and broader U.S. stock market reversed gains Wednesday after the Federal Reserve initiated its long-awaited interest-rate cut – but not without some dissension.

Dow Plunges; S&P 500, Nasdaq Follow

All three major U.S. indexes were trading slightly higher ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy statement, which was released at 2:00 p.m. ET. An initial reading of the decision sent stocks tumbling, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging 404.42 points, or 1.5%, to 26,793.42.

Dow Jones
Dow Jones Industrial Average rips lower after Federal Reserve’s policy decision. | Source: Yahoo Finance

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks followed suit, dropping 1.5% to 2,966.67. Ten of 11 primary industries fell, with consumer staples leading the pack.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.3% to 8,169.37.

Fed Lowers Interest Rates Amid Dissension

jerome powell
Dissension at the Fed? Eight out of 10 FOMC members voted to lower interest rates on Wednesday. | Source: REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday took preemptive measures to keep the economy on firm footing by lowering interest rates for the first time in over a decade.

Central-bank officials voted to lower the federal funds rate by a quarter-point to a range of 2% and 2.25% and left the door open to additional cuts in the next few months. While the decision was widely expected, a large minority of traders thought that a 50 basis-point reduction was possible. Most traders expect a second rate cut in the fall, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

“In light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures, the Committee decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 2 to 2-1/4 percent,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in its official statement.

The decision to resume low-rate stimulus was not a unanimous one. Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Eric Rosengren of the Boston Fed both voted to keep interest rates on hold for the time being. Rosengren first signaled his opposition to a rate cut earlier this month due to positive economic data since mid-June.

Positive data continued to roll in on Wednesday after ADP Inc. reported better than expected jobs numbers for July. Private-sector payrolls increased by 156,000 in July following a revised 112,000 in June. Analysts had expected a monthly increase of 150,000. Although the numbers are well below the post-crisis average, they showed a healthy increase across the service and goods-producing industries.

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average price chart.