Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has denounced Washington’s refusal to issue him a visa for attending an upcoming United Nations Security Council meeting, saying US statesmen are vastly terrified of someone going to their country and conveying the truth to the American people.
Zarif explained that his ministry had “weeks ago” requested a visa to take part in the January 9 Security Council meeting on the importance of upholding the UN Charter, rejecting as false claims by American officials that they did not have time to process the application.
“The Americans are trying to create the impression that our request to attend the meeting was put forth following the assassination of General Soleimani. He [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] has told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that they couldn’t issue the visa due to shortage of time. Whereas the request had been sent several weeks in advance,” he noted.
The US visa denial comes in outright violation of the terms of a 1947 UN Headquarters agreement which requires Washington to allow foreign officials into the country for UN affairs.
The US State Department and the US mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment, or a request to explain what the US legal basis was for barring Zarif from entering the country.
A spokesperson for the UN secretary-general also declined comment.
Zarif said the move was indicative of the bankruptcy of the US administration and Trump’s team.
“The question everyone needs to be asking this lawbreaking government is what are they so scared of?” Zarif exclaimed.
Larry Johnson, a former UN assistant secretary-general said, “Any foreign minister is entitled to address the Security Council at any time and the United States is obligated to provide access to the UN headquarters district.”
Zarif last traveled to New York in September for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations after the US imposed sanctions on him in August for what Iran called “great fear” of his eloquent delivery of the Iranian nation’s message to the world.
The sanctions block property or interests Zarif in the United States but he said that he had none.
In his statement on blacklisting Zarif, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the top Iranian diplomat is a “key enabler” of Iran’s policies throughout the region and the world.
Zarif also attended UN meetings in April and July. During the latter, Washington imposed tight travel restrictions on him and diplomats at Iran’s mission to the United Nations, confining them to a small section of New York City.
The latest US move against Iranian foreign minister comes amid a flare-up in tensions between Tehran and Washington after the United States assassinated the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Lieutenant Generla Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad on Friday.
The Security Council meeting would have given Zarif a global spotlight to publicly criticize the United States for assassinating General Soleimani, which has prompted an outpouring of public anger worldwide.
Zarif is seen as the architect of a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, which the Trump administration abruptly abandoned last year. The US reinstated its unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic following its exit from the landmark deal.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated after Trump pulled his country out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed harsh sanctions.
Tehran, meanwhile, announced Sunday it was ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium as part of the nuclear deal.