Trump Admin Blocks Iran’s Top Diplomat from Entering U.S. After He Called Soleimani Strike “Terrorism”

The Trump administration has barred Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif from entering the United States to address the UN Security Council.

Zarif responded to the killing of Soleimani on state television by calling the move an act of “terrorism” by the United States.

WATCH:

Zarif also tweeted ” The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani – THE most effective force fighting Daesh(ISIS), AL Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al-is extremely dangerous.

Foreign Policy reports 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.

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