The United States has denied a visa to Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, a U.S. official said according to Reuters.
Zarif addressed the U.N. General Assembly in April 2019.
During his speech, he condemned the U.S. for reducing Iranian oil exports as part of a sanctions package following it’s pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) in May 2018.
Moreover, Zarif called on the international body “to deny the United States any perceived benefit from its unlawful unilateralism.”
“The United States is also punishing those who seek to fulfill their multilateral obligations under Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls for normalization of economic relations with Iran,” Zarif said while speaking at the U.N.
In July 2019, President Donald Trump signed a sanctions package targeting the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and anyone who worked with him and his office.
Zarif was sanctioned by the Executive Order shortly thereafter since he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” according to the U.S. Treasury.
Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
In recent days, with the U.S. targeted killing of the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, last week in Baghdad, Iraq, tensions have heightened between the two countries.
On Tuesday, the Iranian parliament doubled down by designating the U.S. military and Pentagon terrorist organizations and passed a $220 million budget bill for Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards Corp’s (IRGC) Quds Force to avenge the U.S. for the killing.
Still, as Jonathan Turley notes, the decision to deny a visa is an entirely unjustified and unwise move.
We host the United Nations and, as long as we intend to do so, we have an obligation to allow travel to the United Nations, particularly by the leading diplomat for a foreign country. We can restrict his movements in the United States, but this should have been approved immediately in line with our agreements.
We can always debate the long-standing question of our hosting of this body. I think it is a point of pride for our country. However, so long as we are the host, we cannot use that status to regulate who speaks to other countries. The United Nations was founded to allow dialogue and exchange, including between countries which might not otherwise speak directly.
* * *
The U.S. State Department did not respond to this reporter’s request for comment to confirm that Zarif’s visa was denied. The story will be updated if there is a response.