Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suddenly resigned today in a post on Instagram where he expressed gratitude "to the dear and honorable Iranian people for the last 67 months" while apologizing for "all the shortcomings during my service".
But he came under attack by anti-Western hardliners in the Islamic Republic when Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement last May and reimposed sanctions lifted as part of the deal. Unconfirmed rumors circulated on social media shortly after the Instagram post went up suggested he had tried to resign on multiple occasions - and that Rouhani had finally accepted this time. "We'll see if it sticks..."
Prominent members of parliaments immediately called for Rouhani not to accept the resignation.
Zarif's post shows the message against the background image of Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, with Iran marking the day on her birth on Monday.
A spokesman for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, Alireza Miryousefi, confirmed the announcement of the resignation.
However, the presidential chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, has in a tweet "strongly denied" any rumors that Rouhani has accepted Zarif's resignation. The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a confidential quarterly report on Friday, Feb. 22 that Iran has been abiding with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Since then Mr Trump's administration has reimposed harsh economic sanctions that were lifted under the deal.
In 2018, hardliners launched an effort to impeach Zarif, but their efforts did not succeed.
Born in 1960, Zarif lived in the United States from the age of 17 as a student in San Francisco and Denver, and subsequently as a diplomat to the United Nations in NY, where he served as Iranian ambassador from 2002-07.
Zarif, who was named foreign minister in August 2013, was the driving force behind the nuclear deal with six world powers, including the United States.
The faceoff between the minister and his critics only intensified as time passed, with Zarif saying his main worry throughout the nuclear talks had been from pressure from inside Iran.