Iran to challenge US denial of visa to hostage taker

Iran's choice for UN ambassador was denied a visa on Friday to enter the US because of his admitted role in the taking of US diplomatic hostage in 1979. But the Iranians insist they don't have anyone else available and will challenge the US decision at the United Nations.


Iran on Saturday rejected a U.S. decision to deny a visa for its newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations, pledging to take up the case directly with the world body in a dispute that has reopened old wounds dating to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The United States, which hosts the United Nations, said Iran's candidate Hamid Abutalebi was unacceptable given his role in a 444-day crisis in which radical Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage.

President Barack Obama had come under strong domestic pressure not to allow Abutalebi into the United States to take up his position in New York, raising concerns that the dispute would disrupt delicate negotiations between Tehran and six world powers including Washington over Iran's nuclear program.

"We have no replacement for Mr. Abutalebi and we will pursue the matter via legal mechanisms envisioned at the United Nations," Abbas Araghchi, a senior Foreign Ministry official, was quoted by Iran's official IRNA news agency as saying.

"Based on an agreement with the United Nations, America is bound to act according to its international commitments," Araghchi said, as quoted by IRNA. The United Nations said it had no comment at this time on the U.S. decision.

American law allows the Washington government to bar U.N. diplomats who are considered national security threats. But Obama's potentially precedent-setting step could open the United States to criticism that it is wielding its position as host nation to improperly exert political influence.

Araghchi is also a top negotiator in Iran's talks with big powers on defusing a stand-off over its disputed nuclear activity. Iran has said Washington's rejection of Abutalebi will not affect the talks, whose next round is set for May 13.

Abutalebi says he served solely as a periodic translator for the Islamist students who seized the U.S. embassy hostages, and he has since evolved into a moderate figure favoring, like President Hassan Rouhani, a thaw in Iran's ties with the West.

Since an uproar among former U.S. hostages and U.S. lawmakers over Abutalebi broke out, Tehran has steadfastly stuck by its choice, describing him as a seasoned diplomat who has served in various capacities in Western countries.

Raise your hand if you are stupid enough to believe the Iranians didn't know the ruckus their chocie fo UN ambassador would create. And if you;d like to confirm your idiocy, raise your hand if you don't believe this is a deliberate move by the Iranians to show US weakness in the nuclear talks.

The Iranians know full well how deep the wounds of the hostage taking go in the US and their decision to throw it in our face and dance a victory dance after 34 years has to be seen in light of our current efforts to normalize relations. The still scream "Death to the US" after Friday prayers - a clear echo of those heady days when they had America prostrate and exposed as a paper tiger for all the world to see. It seems incomprehensible that they wouldn't continuie to use the hostage crisis both as a means of reminding their citizens of their triumph, as well as reminding the US of the pain they can inflict upon us.

The Obama administration will eventually cave on this, believing the nuclear talks are more important than American honor.

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