Three weeks ago, the Washington Post reported glibly in U.S.-Iran relations thawing somewhat glacially, “Hamid Aboutalebi, formerly that country’s emissary to Italy, to Australia and now to the United Nations, can’t seem to get his U.S. visa. He’s apparently been waiting for months and no one in Tehran is quite sure why the delay.”

Now Bloomberg News reports the likely reason: Aboutalebi is suspected of being “a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, a group of radical students that seized the U.S. embassy on Nov. 4, 1979” and held American citizens hostages for 444 days.

Relations between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. and its allies are beginning to emerge from the deep freeze that began when the self-proclaimed Iranian students overrun the embassy and took the hostages. The State Department hasn’t responded to the visa application, according to an Iranian diplomat.

A controversy over Aboutalebi’s appointment could spark demands on Capitol Hill and beyond during this congressional election year for the Obama administration to take the unusual step of denying a visa to an official posted to the UN. It also could hamper progress toward a comprehensive agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. and five other world powers are seeking to negotiate with Iran by July 20.

It’s disturbing that the Washington Post and, less explicitly, Bloomberg are putting the onus on the United States. Appointing someone who violated civilized society’s norms by attacking an embassy as an ambassador, is an affront to those norms. Asking that that person be granted the protections that he violated is pure chutzpah. (The UN would not be Aboutalebi’s first diplomatic posting; he’s been Iran’s ambassador to Belgium and Italy, previously.) Showing such disrespect to the United States undermines the notion that Iran is currently being led by a moderate or even a relative moderate.

In a couple of tweets Marc Leibowitz expresses his disgust with Iran and with the UN.


[Photo: ABC News / YouTube ]


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