The strained US-Iran relations have hit another low after the US denied visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Zarif, who was due to attend a UN Security Council meeting on the significance of obeying the UN Charter in New York on Thursday, would not be able to do so post visa denial.
However, there are speculations that Zarif may use his considerable contacts in the US media and his skills as a debater to make a global appeal that the US airstrikes that led to the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani were illegal.
Former UN assistant secretary-general Larry Johnson has claimed that denying entry to the Iranian Foreign Minister is a clear violation of the 1947 US-UN Accord, also known as the 1947 UN Headquarters Agreement.
On the other hand, the authorities from Washington have claimed that the US can deny visas “security, terrorism, and foreign policy” reasons. This has led to the argument if the US is defying the 1947 UN Headquarters Agreement by refusing to furnish visa to Javad Zarif or not?
Zarif has for a long held various offices to the UN in the US, which includes being a member of the Iranian delegation to the UN, chairperson of the United Nations Disarmament Commission and representing Iran at the UN from 2002-07.
His long experience in the US while working for the UN gives a certain base to the speculations that he can try to use the UN Charter meeting to provide a global platform to their claims that the US airstrikes that killed Soleimani were “a criminal act”.
Moreover, the statement by Iran’s UN envoy, Majid Takht Ravanchi also adds to the speculations that Javad Zarif may use the UN as a global platform to mar the image of the US in the international community and try to tip the UN and other countries in its favor.
In his statement, Ravanchi claimed that the death of the Iranian general is “an obvious example of State terrorism and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular … the Charter of the United Nations”.
To top it all, the US denying visa to Zarif is in complete accordance with the Public Law 80-357, which was approved in 1947. The law allows the White House Officials to restrict foreign individuals from attending UN meetings in New York if they pose a threat to the US national security.
With Trump’s tweet that points to all possibilities of direct conflict with Iran to its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a high uncertainty surrounds the fate of the next event that will decide the future of the US-Iran relations.
Even though denying the visa to Javad Zarif complies with the Public Law 80-357, seeing the latest turn of events sheds light on the fact that there is no chance of the issue being resolved, unless both the countries end employing offensive strategies.