August 5, 2022
Several Republican senators have urged the US administration to deny visas for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York City in September.
In a letter to US President Joe Biden, Senators Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Marsha Blackburn, and Ted Cruz said: “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.”
“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 senators stressed.
“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 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) agents in the Iranian delegation,” the senators continued.
They further highlighted Raisi’s long-standing and clear record as a violator of human rights.
“In 1988, while deputy prosecutor of Tehran, Raisi served on a Death Commission which sentenced approximately 5,000 prisoners to death, including women and children, without the right to appeal or a fair trial,” the letter read, stressing that Raisi is proud of his record.
In 2018, he defended the commission, calling it “divine punishment” and “one of the proud achievements of the system.”
They said that Raisi’s role in these gross human rights abuses led the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to sanction him in 2019.
“Granting a mass murderer like Raisi a visa to enter our country would also legitimize his repression. It is a risk we cannot and should not take,” the letter warned.
The letter recalled a report by Washington Examiner in March, stating that the Department of Justice had indictable evidence that IRGC Quds Force operatives were planning to assassinate former US National Security Adviser John Bolton.
It added that the IRGC has reportedly been plotting similar efforts against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie, and other former officials.
The US had previously refused to issue visas to Iranian officials to participate in the General Assembly meetings.
In 2014, then-President Barack Obama denied an entry visa to Iranian UN Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi, who was involved in taking American diplomats hostage in 1979.
In 2020, Donald Trump declined to issue a visa for Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.