The United States senate unanimously voted to bar the new Iranian ambassador to the United Nations – a man with terrorist ties – from entering the country.
Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi, who was directly involved in the hostage-taking incident in 1979, when 52 Americans were held for 444 days by supporters of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, will be barred from entering the United States, according to a newly approved U.S. senate bill.
Iran’s Rouhani government, which was viewed by many as more “moderate” than the previous administration, recently appointed Aboutalebi to the post. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned that Rouhani was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“It is unconscionable that in the name of international diplomatic protocol, the United States would be forced to host a foreign national who showed a brutal disregard of the status of diplomats when they were stationed in his country,” declared Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the bill’s lead sponsor. “This person is an acknowledged terrorist.”
Iranian Ambassador Helped Siege of U.S. Embassy
The bill, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, designates that anyone who had been involved in terrorism or espionage or who is deemed a potential security threat would be denied entry to the U.S. The new Iranian ambassador, who had participated in the siege of the U.S. embassy during the hostage-taking crisis, claims he was merely acting as a translator and negotiator.
According to the Washington Post, “several aides confirm that Cruz talked over the weekend with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), the chamber’s third-ranking Democrat, who also has been pushing aggressively for sanctions against Iran and for the Obama administration to block granting a visa to the new envoy.”
“As host nation of the United Nations headquarters,” the Post explains, “the US generally admits the chosen representatives of U.N. members, with limited exceptions.”
“We’re taking a close look at the case now, and we’ve raised our serious concerns about this possible nomination with the government of Iran. I’m not going to get into specifically how we’ve done that, but we have done that,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a press briefing last week.
American President Barack Obama had called Aboutalebi’s nomination “deeply troubling,” while Cruz, discussing the issue more recently at the Senate, labelled Rouhani’s choice a “deliberate and unambiguous insult to the U.S.”
Choice of Iranian Ambassador a ‘Slap in the Face’
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called it “a slap in the face to the Americans that were abducted and their families. It reveals a disdain for the diplomatic process and we should push back in kind.”
Fox News reports that although the U.S. had objected to Iran’s anticipated selection of Aboutalebi, “the Obama administration stopped short last week of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the U.S. The State Department said it had raised the issue with Tehran.”
“It may be a case of strange bedfellows, but I’m glad Sen. Cruz and I were able to work out a bill that would prevent this terrorist from stepping foot on American soil,” Schumer stated. “We ought to close the door on him and others like him before he even comes to the U.S., and that’s exactly what this bill will do.”
Date: Apr. 8, 2014