US denies visa for Iranian Foreign Minister to attend UN Security Council meeting in New York


By Ryan Fahey, Mailonline

The US administration has denied a visa to allow Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, a US official said.

The Iranian Mission to the UN said they “have not received any official communication” on the status of Zarif’s visa despite him having requested it weeks ago.

UN headquarters in New York

Zarif is looking to use the meeting to condemn last Friday’s attack on Qassem Soleimani in front of the international community.

Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander, was assassinated by an American drone strike on a road leading from Baghdad airport on Friday, an order given by US President Donald Trump while he was holidaying in Florida.

Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi

Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi called on the Security Council to condemn the attack on Soleimani, coining it “an obvious example of state terrorism and, as a criminal act”.

He added that it was a “gross violation of international law”.

Zarif himself said the US “will get the decisive, definite answer for its arrogance at the time and place when it will feel the most pain,” in a speech on regional developments that was broadcast on state television.

Zarif: The world is not limited to New York

“As the host of the UN headquarters, the US should allow foreign delegates to attend such events. They fear that someone comes to the US and reveals realities.

“The world is not limited to New York and you can talk to the American people from Tehran and we will do that.”

Dr. George Szamuely, Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute and author of Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia, said by denying Iran’s foreign minister visa for Security Council visit, America has lost moral right to serve as home for the UN.

“US officials have long used visa rejections to humiliate political adversaries who have to travel to New York to attend the United Nations. Enough is enough,” Szamuely wrote on

“While the US did not prevent Zarif from attending the opening of the UN General Assembly last September, his presence on US soil today is evidently too much for the US government to bear.

Yasser Arafat was denied entry in 1998

“The United States serves as host country to the United Nations and, according to the agreement it signed with the United Nations in 1947, it has no right to stipulate whom UN member-states can and whom they cannot send to the UN to speak on their behalf.

“This applies ‘irrespective of the relations existing between the governments of the persons referred to…and the government of the United States’.

“Furthermore, ‘the appropriate American authorities shall afford any necessary protection to such persons while in transit to or from the headquarters district’.”

Bashir in 2013

Szamuely says for years the US has been imposing all manner of restrictions on who comes to the UN. 

He said in 1988, the US denied Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat a visa to address the UN General Assembly as well as to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan in 2013.

Bashir was under indictment by the International Criminal Court. However, the United States doesn’t normally show such deference to the wishes of the ICC.

UN Security Council

“In 2014, the United States denied a visa to Iran’s choice of ambassador to the UN, Hamid Abutalebi while in April 2019, it revoked the visa of ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda after she announced her intent to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan, including any committed by US forces.

Szamuely also chronicles that in 2018, in the aftermath of the Skripal poisoning affair, the United States, along with its NATO allies ordered the expulsion of Russian diplomats. 

UN General Assembly

“Of the 60 diplomats the US expelled, 12 were accredited to the United Nations, not the United States — a clear violation of the US-UN hosting agreement.”

He also said some UN-accredited diplomats from countries which are out of favor with Washington face harassment every day that include increasingly restrictive travel limitations, arbitrary denial of visas and driver’s licenses, additional airport security checks, and curtailed access to banking services needed to conduct their diplomatic work and pay their dues at the UN.