The Guardianreports: “Iran defended its nomination for ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, after hawks in the U.S. Senate passed legislation to ban the official from entering the country over his alleged role in the 1979 hostage crisis.
“The dispute over Hamid Aboutalebi, Tehran’s pick as its envoy to the UN in New York, threatens to derail talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which are entering a critical phase in Vienna.
“Aboutalebi, a close political adviser to the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, has served as Iran’s ambassador to Belgium, Italy, Australia and the European Union. …
“Press secretary Jay Carney said: ‘We’ve informed the government of Iran that this potential selection is not viable.’ The language was the closest the administration has come to ruling out Aboutalebi being allowed into the country to fulfill a UN role.
“Legislation authored by Republican senator Ted Cruz easily passed the Senate on Monday, after it received the backing of Democratic hawks such as Chuck Schumer. Cruz, a standard-bearer of the right wing of the GOP, called Iran’s nomination a ‘deliberate and unambiguous insult to the United States.’”
Jennings is president of Conscience International and executive director of U.S. Academics for Peace. He organized a delegation of U.S. academics who visited Iran earlier this year for talks with political, academic and religious leaders.
He said today: “For the U.S. Senate to veto Iran’s choice of UN ambassador is an exercise in hubris and a violation of the spirit of the UN Charter. … Obama should use his executive prerogative and order the State Department to issue the visa anyway. …
“Which outcome does the United States want — negotiations with Iran or a continuation of the 35-year diplomatic impasse? And who is driving U.S. foreign policy going forward — the White House and State Department or Ted Cruz and the hardliners in Congress?”
Jennings said at the conclusion of their visit to Iran: “This is a moment of rare opportunity for both the U.S. and Iran. It would help greatly if both nations can manage to reject the hardliners, avoid paranoia, reduce tensions, and concentrate on future economic development. Iran’s political leadership is moderate and ready to reach an agreement. They are capable and enlightened. The proposals Iran has made to the P5+1 negotiators are eminently reasonable. Even so, everyone admits that time is limited, and that progress on an overall agreement is critical.”