President Obama has signed into law a bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R – TX) barring Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi from serving in his position. It bars Aboutalebi from entering the United States.
Aboutalebi was accused of being involved in the 1979 US embassy hostage-taking during the Iranian Revolution, though his role appears to have just been that of a translator after the fact.
The ambassador has served several posts without any issue across the West, and was allowed to be part of a delegation to the United Nations in the late 1990s without any US objection. The hysteria surrounding rumors of his involvement in the hostage-taking has spurred a harsh reaction from politicians who need little excuse and even less evidence to move against Iran.
Iran has complained to the United Nations about the precedent set by the US getting to unilaterally pick and choose other nations’ ambassadors, and is planning to file a lawsuit against the US challenging the law as a violation of international treaty.
The US has in the past threatened to block ambassadors and nations have withdrawn the nominations, and at times the US has limited the movements of ambassadors to the UN to the area around New York City. This is the first time, however, that they will be openly refusing to allow a sitting ambassador to the United Nations to actually visit the United Nations.