IRAN/SANCTIONS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration took the unusual step on Wednesday [7-31-19] of placing sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister, essentially cutting off the clearest avenue for talks with Iran by punishing the man who negotiated the 2015 nuclear agreement. Senior administration officials described the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif — an American-educated diplomat who is well connected throughout the United States — as the ‘propaganda arm’ of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In withdrawing last year from the nuclear accord, the administration argued that the move was intended to open negotiations. But with Mr. Zarif sidelined, it was unclear who else might serve as an experienced intermediary for Tehran in any potential talks. The administration has already imposed sanctions on the country’s remaining power centers, Ayatollah Khamenei and the elite military organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.”

David E. Sanger and Michael Crowley, “Trump Administration Imposes Sanctions on Iran’s Top Diplomat,” The New York Times online, July 31, 2019