Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi has expressed a strong protest to the US government over denying entry visas to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to New York.

Iran Press/America: "The Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations strongly protests to the Host Country and expresses its deep concern over its repeated failure to abide by its legal obligations as well as its persistent attempt to use the seat of the United Nations Headquarters as political leverage against certain countries," he said in a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a copy of which was received by Iran Press News Agency on Saturday.                                                                                                                               

"I have the honor to write to you with regard to the Host Country’s unjustifiable, arbitrary and unacceptable conduct in denying the visa for H.E. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his accompanying delegation to take part in the Ministerial Meeting of the Security Council on 9 January 2020 to discuss the role of the United Nations Charter in promoting international peace and security on the eve of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations."

Zarif was due in New York on January 9 to attend a UN Security Council meeting held at the invitation of Vietnam, which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council. 

Last June, the US Treasury Department announced that Iran's Foreign Minister would be sanctioned as part of the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign to force back Iran at the negotiations table under US conditions.

Ravanchi said the denial of the visa for Zarif was another example of the host country’s persistent violation of its international legal obligations set forth within the Headquarters Agreement as well as the Convention on Privileges and the Immunities of the United Nations with the purpose of ensuring the efficient functioning of the United Nations.

"By denying the visa for Foreign Minister Zarif and his delegation, the Host Country has actually impeded transit of the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations and therefore has violated its explicit obligation enshrined in Section 11 of the Headquarters Agreement which underlines that the United States 'shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from' U.N. headquarters for representatives of UN Member States."

The letter reiterated that the host country is under the obligation to not only refrain from impairing the normal functioning of the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran and their transit to the United Nations but also to grant visas “as promptly as possible” for them to enable them to travel in a timely manner to New York on official United Nations business.

"It is important to emphasize that no grounds for the denial of visa applications exist under the Agreement. Moreover, according to Section 12 of the Agreement, issues related to the entry of the Member States’ representatives in the United States must be dealt with irrespective of the bilateral relations with the Host Country," read the letter.  

Ravanchi added it was unfortunate that the host country has turned the seat of the United Nations into an instrument of its foreign policy, denying the presence of the foreign minister of a founding member state of the United Nations in defiance of all of its obligations and solely for political considerations.

"It is a source of profound regret that the Host Country continues to disrespect not only the United Nations and its Member States but also multilateral diplomacy seeking to undermine international law as well as multilateralism when it is needed the most. The UN seat is a place for dialogue, cooperation, and consensus-building. It is a place where nations can collectively interact, deliberate and pursue common goals as well as work together to deal with international challenges. The unlawful move by the United States does exactly the opposite, adversely affecting the effective functioning of the United Nations."

The US government has imposed tough restrictions on Iranian diplomats and officials entering the United States, limiting the movement of diplomats and their families to a small area of New York City, close to the United Nations headquarters.

Ravanchi further noted that the host country has not responded positively to the concerns and the legal position of the United Nations Organization over the denial of the visa or its illegal restrictions on some member states.

"Under the current circumstances, available legal remedies need to be employed to correct this violation of international law," the Iranian envoy added.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly believes that the continued failure of the United States to abide by its obligations --which has affected the normal functioning of Iranian representatives to the United Nations --, confirms that a legal dispute between the Host Country, the United Nations and the Islamic Republic of Iran exists."

The letter also urged the UN Secretary-General to intervene under Section 21 of the Headquarters Agreement in order to reach a settlement over such a dispute, which it stressed "already has put into question the credibility of the UN system."

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