Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Latin America this week to meet with left-wing leaders in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, seeking to bolster diplomatic relations amid increasing isolation from the international community.
Zarif began his tour with a visit to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, where he attended a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) foreign ministers’ meeting. He also held talks with socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and his deputy, Delcy Rodríguez.
His regional tour continued in Nicaragua for a meeting with communist dictator Daniel Ortega, who derided U.S. sanctions against Iran and his own country.
“We never accept the concept of U.S. sanctions because it is not within the framework of international law,” he said. “These sanctions against our people and yours are unilateral and illegal.”
“In Managua, I offered congratulations to the people & government of Nicaragua on the 40th anniversary of their revolution. Iran & Nicaragua have both resisted U.S.’s [economic terrorism] & aggressive interventions,” Zarif wrote in his summary of the visit. “We’ve agreed on wide-ranging cooperation between our two nations.”
In Managua, I offered congratulations to the people & government of #Nicaragua on the 40th anniversary of their revolution.
Iran & Nicaragua have both resisted US' #EconomicTerrorism & aggressive interventions.
We've agreed on wide-ranging cooperation between our two nations. pic.twitter.com/YfjTRehHgC
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 22, 2019
Javad also claimed that his regime was not seeking a confrontation with the United Kingdom and their incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week seized a British tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“The May govt’s seizure of Iranian oil at behest of US is piracy, pure & simple. I congratulate my former counterpart, Boris Johnson on becoming UK PM,” he wrote. “Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them.”
The May govt's seizure of Iranian oil at behest of US is piracy, pure & simple.
I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson on becoming UK PM.
Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline.These are our waters & we will protect them pic.twitter.com/svEqmEHQBM
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 23, 2019
The final leg of the tour began on Tuesday, with Javad arriving in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz to hold talks with senior officials of the South American country, including President Evo Morales.
“We held an important meeting with the brotherly Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, where we talked about implementing a nanotechnology lab and a drug factory,” Morales wrote on Twitter after the meeting. “They also showed interest in importing Bolivian products. We will continue to expand bilateral trade.”
Sostuvimos una importante reunión con el hermano canciller de #Irán, Mohammad Javad Zarif, hablamos de implementar un laboratorio de nanotecnología y una fábrica de medicamentos. También mostraron su interés en importar productos bolivianos. Ampliamos nuestros mercados. pic.twitter.com/OawIuyr8xv
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) July 23, 2019
Zarif’s tour of Latin America comes at a time when Iran is facing increasing isolation in the international community, amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington following the reimposition of economic sanctions by the Trump administration.
The tour also presented an opportunity for the regime to expand its trade ties, with the country currently experiencing a severe economic crisis involving rampant inflation, rising unemployment, and annual shrinking of GDP of up to five percent.