The Iranian Fars news agency reported that the United States denied entry visas to Iranian officials, including two ministers, expected to attend next week's U.N. General Assembly meeting. The U.S. Department of State refrained from issuing visas for 20 of the 160 people for whom the Iranian government had requested entry visas two months ago. Many Iranian officials are subject to travel bans under sanctions over Iran's controversial nuclear programme. Fars did not name the two ministers denied visas to attend the UN General Assembly meeting, but it said that Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie would accompany Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad is expected to give his final speech at the UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday. Since he took office, Ahmadinejad has attended all annual UN General Assembly meetings. Over 150 security officers will guarantee Ahmadinejad's security during his stay in New York. Tehran is currently under several packages of Western-backed sanctions, including an EU-brokered oil embargo that came into effect on 1 July. The USA, Israel and a number of Western European countries suspect Iran of running a nuclear weapons programme under the guise of a civil nuclear project. Iran denies this; it maintains that its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful.
Can you imagine what the reaction of the United States Government would be if U.S. diplomats or representatives were kept from attending a meeting of a U.N. agency in Geneva or Brussels? I expect that we would cut off all funding for the organization (many in Congress are itching for such an opening) -- in effect, take our marbles and go home. Remember, we have already had a fling with that approach in regard to UNESCO, pulling out our $60 million dollars in support when that agency admitted the Palestinians.
If we are in doubt about the Iranians' intentions, wouldn't it be better to have more contacts, rather then fewer?