News : Terrorism

Iranian MPs Stand by Controversial Choice for UN Ambassador Aboutalebi

On Thursday 8 May, the Tasmin News Agency quoted two Iranian officials as reiterating Iran’s intransigence on the issue of its appointment to the post of permanent ambassador to the United Nations. Hamid Aboutalebi was named as the sole choice for the position, but the United States blocked the appointment by denying Aboutalebi a visa to enter the country, where the UN headquarters is located.

The US response was approved by both houses of Congress as well as President Obama, and was based in large part on Aboutalebi’s involvement in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, in which 52 Americans were captured by radical Iranian at the embassy in Tehran. Also, Aboutalebi has been named as a likely conspirator in the assassination of a member of the Iranian resistance, which took place in Rome in 1993.

Days after the US government voted to block the appointment, Iranian officials declared their intention to respond with a lawsuit against the US. The most recent reports indicate that they are still refusing to name an alternative appointment, choosing instead to stand by their controversial and perhaps intentionally confrontational choice.

Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, was quoted by Tasnim as saying that Iran should not succumb to the “bullying language” of the US on this issue.

Ebrahim Aqamohammadi, another member of the same commission, urged Iranian officials to continue trying to pressure international bodies to override the US’s determination that Aboutalebi was not a viable candidate.

The Tasnim News Agency’s reports declare that the United States is legally obligated to issue visas to ambassadors assigned there, “even those it finds objectionable.” However, Aboutalebi’s appointment arguably signifies something more than a mere ideological difference. The US is legally entitled to make exceptions to its visa obligations in cases where the appointee is suspected of spying or is held to be a threat to US security.

Given Aboutalebi’s suspected involvement in assassinations and his known involvement in the groups responsible for extremist activities during the Iranian Revolution, the would-be ambassador can be reasonably identified as a possible anti-Western terrorist.

The original conflict over his appointment led Iran’s Deputy UN Ambassador Hossein Dehghani to declare that the “denial of visa to a representative of a U.N. member state is in contravention of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter including the principles of sovereign equality of states and respect for their sovereignty and political independence.”

However, by attempting to use international law to force the United States to admit a suspected extremist into its borders, Iran may be similarly accused of attempting to violate another country’s sovereignty and political independence.”

Apart from denying Aboutalebi, the US has made no further efforts to control Iran’s ambassadorial choice. Thus, by continuing to press for his admittance a month after the initial dispute, it would appear that Iran is making the greater effort to override another nation’s sovereignty, especially considering that the dispute would likely be resolved by simply naming another, less controversial choice.

 

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