Iran’s Zarif not allowed to move beyond a six-block radius in New York

Published: Updated:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif is not allowed beyond a six-block radius during his visit to New York City, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, adding that Zarif was only given a US visa as part of the US’s obligation toward the UN- being that it is the host country of the organization’s headquarters.

Zarif and the Iranian delegation arrived in New York on Sunday morning to attend a UN Economic and Social Council ministerial meeting. The meeting is set to focus on sustainable development goals, which aim to tackle issues including conflict, hunger, gender equality and climate change by 2030.

Zarif is only allowed to travel between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence and New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, a US State Department official said.

“US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Pompeo said in a statement on Sunday.

“We have largely working with our diplomatic security, but we put in place the necessary protocols to ensure that they stay within that six-block radius,” Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, said in an interview on Fox News.

He added that no US government officials will meet with Zarif.

Since his arrival, Zarif has done television interviews, but TV crews conducted them at the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence, which is within the set limitations.

According to a UN 1947 agreement, the US is required to allow foreign diplomats entry for access to the UN. However, Washington says it holds the right to deny visas for “security, terrorism, and foreign policy” reasons.

In April 2014, the US did not grant a visa to Iran’s chosen UN ambassador, Hamid Abutalebi, because of his links to the 1979-1981 Tehran hostage crisis when radical students seized the US Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Abutalebi said he acted only as a translator.

Iran complained to a UN committee, but ultimately ended up appointing a new ambassador in early 2015.

- With Reuters