UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - Iran asked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday (Aug 6) to push back against the United States after it imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, describing the move as "a dangerous precedent".
In a letter to Mr Guterres, Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the US of a "brazen violation of the fundamental principles of international law" and urged the international community to condemn the US behaviour.
"Coercing nations into complying with the United States' illegal demands threatens multilateralism, as the foundation of international relations, and sets a dangerous precedent, paving the way for those who aspire to rather divide, not unite, nations," he wrote.
Mr Ravanchi asked Mr Guterres to "play your active role in preserving the integrity of the United Nations in line with your responsibility to counter the current dangerous trend", but it is not clear what Mr Guterres could do in response to the Iranians.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to comment on the letter.
When asked about the US sanctioning of Mr Zarif, Mr Guterres told reporters last Thursday: "When I ask for maximum restraint, I ask for maximum restraint at all levels."
The US sanctions imposed on Mr Zarif last week would block any property or interests he has in the US, but the foreign minister said he had none.
"The illegal imposition of sanctions on the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran also violates the principle of sovereign equality of States," Mr Ravanchi said.
Long-time US-Iran strains have worsened since US President Donald Trump last year quit a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief. Mr Zarif was a critical figure in the nuclear deal.
The US also imposed unusually tight travel restrictions on Mr Zarif when he visited New York last month to speak at a UN meeting. He was able to travel only between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador's residence and John F. Kennedy airport.
The sanctions on Mr Zarif were imposed two weeks after he visited New York. He posted on Twitter on Monday that he believed the US was not interested in talks with Teheran and instead wanted Iran's submission.