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Trump Administration Blocks Iran’s Top Terror Spox From Addressing the U.N. Security Council

7

The world has changed a great deal from the time of the United Nations’ birth in 1945, and so has the United Nations. Sixty years ago, democracies, both nascent and well-established, comprised the majority of the founding nations of the UN. The members of the General Assembly were strategically aligned primarily along what would become the lines of the Cold War. America was confident that the UN would be an organization which would work in tandem with American national interests in promoting the welfare of humankind and the basic rights of every human spirit.

There is a clear lack of moral criteria. The UN does not distinguish between democracy and dictatorship, good and bad. And the enemy is getting worse.

Trump Administration Blocks Iran’s Top Diplomat From Addressing the U.N. Security Council

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had sought to give a speech condemning the U.S. assassination of Qassem Suleimani

BY Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy | January 6, 2020, 3:18 PM

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

The Trump administration is barring Iran’s top diplomat from entering the United States this week to address the United Nations Security Council about the U.S. assassination of Iran’s top military official in Baghdad, violating the terms of a 1947 headquarters agreement requiring Washington to permit foreign officials into the country to conduct U.N. business, according to three diplomatic sources.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif requested a visa a “few weeks ago” to enter the United States to attend a Jan. 9 Security Council meeting on the importance of upholding the U.N. Charter, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the matter. The Thursday meeting was to provide Tehran’s top diplomat with his first opportunity to directly address the world community since U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, a top Iraqi militia leader, among others.

The Iranian government was awaiting word on the visa Monday when a Trump administration official phoned U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to inform him that the United States would not allow Zarif into the country, according to the Washington-based diplomatic source.

The move comes as the United States and Iran engaged in tit-for-tat recriminations over the killing of Suleimani. Trump tweeted over the weekend that if Iran retaliates for Suleimani’s death, it will face U.S. attacks on 52 targets—the number of hostages held by Iran in 1979. “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have … 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,” he said. “The USA wants no more threats!”

Tehran, meanwhile, announced Sunday it was ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium as part of its 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of in 2018 and then followed up by reimposing tough sanctions on Iran.

But even before the current crisis, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in recent months had sought to restrict the ability of Zarif—a skilled debater who has studied in the United States and has extensive contacts with American journalists—to make his case to the American public during previous visits to the United States.

In July, the United States restricted his movement to a few blocks in Manhattan and Queens, preventing Zarif from making his regular visits to TV studios, universities, and think tanks. Pompeo defended the decision, noting that American diplomats lack freedom to travel in Iran.

The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Iran after the revolution. Iran is permitted to maintain a diplomatic outpost in midtown Manhattan to conduct U.N. business.

On the eve of the U.N. General Assembly debate in September 2019, Pompeo hinted that he might bar the Iranian delegation, led by President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif, from entering the United States, saying that Iran was responsible for carrying out an earlier drone and missile strike on two critical Saudi Arabian oil installations.

“The actions that the Iranian regime took violated the U.N. Charter,” Pompeo said at the time. “If you’re connected to a foreign terrorist organization, it seems to me it would be a reasonable thing to think about whether they ought to be prevented to attend a meeting which is about peace.”

 

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