According to the state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency, Rouhani accused the U.S. of "childish behavior", especially after the Trump administration expressed an interest to meet with the Iranian government in Tehran.
“[The United States] were claiming every day ‘We want to talk, with no preconditions’... and then they sanction the foreign minister,” Rouhani said during a live television broadcast. “This means they have lost the power of rational thought.”
Iran’s president surmised that Zarif was targeted because the US is “afraid of our foreign minister’s interviews.”
Zarif, who has been a long-serving diplomat, responded to the U.S. Treasury's decision by highlighting the fact that these sanctions have no effect on him or his family.
“Rather than sanctioning the foreign minister for doing his job, we should engage him in serious diplomacy,” California Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. “The only way we’ll have a lasting diplomatic resolution with Iran is through talks, and sanctioning their top diplomat isn’t the way to accomplish that.”
The sanctions have also been criticized in the international arena. China said on Thursday that Washington’s decision to target Zarif does nothing to solve the standoff between the US and Iran.