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Plans for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to attend the United Nations General Assembly in September, despite US sanctions, has prompted calls from officials and experts alike for President Biden to deny the delegation any visas.
“The Biden administration has publicly acknowledged that the regime in Tehran is actively plotting to assassinate Americans,” Richard Goldberg, former National Security Council official and senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital. “How can they issue visas to the people in charge of the plot? It would be fully consistent with US law and treaty obligations to deny Raisi and his delegation visas on national security grounds.”
Iranian government spokesperson Ali Bahadori Jahromi announced that the government has set preliminary plans for Raisi to attend the annual event – his first since taking office. The UN General Assembly will begin on Sept. 13 in New York City, with the General Debate to start one week later. Raisi has drawn a plum speaking spot on the second day of the debate.
The US has accused Raisi, a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, of several human rights violations, including mass executions and crackdowns on political opponents. He took office on Aug. 5, 2021, but did not attend last year’s General Assembly.
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American officials included Raisi in a list of Iranian officials sanctioned for human rights abuses in 2019.
A group of seven Republican senators including Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Tuesday sent a letter to Biden urging him to deny visas for the Iranian delegation to prevent them from attending the UN General Assembly.
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“Raisi’s involvement in mass murder and the Iranian regime’s campaign to assassinate US officials on American soil make allowing Raisi and his henchmen to enter our country an inexcusable threat to national security,” the senators wrote.
“If recent reports are true that Raisi plans to attend the UN General Assembly, the White House must deny Raisi and other Iranian officials visas to attend,” the letter continued. “Allowing Raisi to travel to the United States—while his agents actively work to assassinate senior American officials on US soil—would gravely endanger our national security, given the likely presence of IRGC agents in the Iranian delegation.”
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Raisi has remained a key figure in discussions with the US on resurrecting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. He has taken a tough stance towards negotiations, demanding the US lift sanctions before Tehran would make any accommodations – a point he repeated during his inaugural address.
The UN in 2015 passed Resolution 2231, which supported the “full and effective implementation” of the JCPOA.
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The US walked away from the JCPOA in 2018 as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, but American officials maintained that they had the right under Resolution 2231 to a “snapback” clause to allow an individual nation to reimpose all sanctions on Iran .
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.