Iran's president rejects the shock resignation of his top diplomat, a key player in the nuclear deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rejected the shock resignation of his vocal Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who led negotiations for the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

Initially withholding reasons for the resignation in a cryptic Instagram post Monday night, Zarif later attributed his decision to political infighting and being sidelined in foreign policy decisions. On Wednesday morning, Rouhani officially rejected the resignation, writing in a letter: “I think your resignation is against the country’s interests and I do not accept it.”

If Zarif stays in his position, it will likely serve to bolster support for him and the Rouhani administration, some analysts say, blunting initial arguments that the resignation meant a win for Iran’s hard-line factions.

The clamorous opposition to his resignation from various parties this week demonstrated the level of support that still remains for his policies, says Sanam Vakil, a senior fellow at think tank Chatham House and associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“If indeed Zarif remains in the job, this resignation move definitely solidified both his public and political support, so he will be returning more empowered,” she told CNBC on Wednesday.

While he was criticized by Iran’s more conservative elements for his perceived outreach to the West and for what they say was a dismantling of the country’s nuclear program, the U.S.-educated foreign minister has the backing of numerous lawmakers. Iranian media reported that a majority of parliament members penned a letter to Rouhani on Tuesday asking him to reject the resignation.


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