To Our Shame: Biden Administration Says Its “Obligated” to Grant Entry Visas To Russian Minister Lavrov And Iran’s President Raisi To Attend UN General Assembly
[guest post by Dana]
This is so disappointing:
The United States has given Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a visa to travel to New York for the United Nations’ annual gathering of world leaders next week with half the delegation Moscow requested, a Russian diplomatic source said on Tuesday.
Moscow had asked Washington for 56 visas, according to a Sept. 2 letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres from Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. The Russian diplomatic source said on Tuesday the United States had approved 24 visas.
Nebenzia had also noted in his letter that the flight crew for Lavrov’s plane had not received visas. It was not immediately clear if Washington had granted visas for the Russian flight crew or if Lavrov would be expected to fly commercial airlines to New York.
Note: Under the 1947 U.N. “headquarters agreement,” the United States is generally required to allow access to the United Nations for foreign diplomats. But Washington says it can deny visas for security, terrorism and foreign policy reasons. So, given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Lavarov’s accusation that the U.S. and our allies are to blame for the war, how he is he *not* a security risk? And it’s worth noting that Lavarov met with the chief political leader of the Hamas terror group earlier this week in Moscow to discuss “Israel’s violations,” among other things.
On the upside, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D) and Lindsey Graham (R) have just introduced legislation to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism:
“The need for this measure is more pressing now than ever before,” Blumenthal said, citing the killings of civilians and other “brutal, cruel oppression” in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
Graham said the designation would send a strong signal of support for Ukraine and to U.S. allies. He said it also would impose penalties on Russia and tighten sanctions.
It was not immediately clear when or whether their measure might come up for a vote.
The White House is against the legislation because “the consequences could delay food exports to parts of war-torn Ukraine and jeopardize deals to move goods through the Black Sea.” They claim to be looking at other options analogous to the legislation.
One should also take into consideration the anguished testimony of Ukrainian medic, Yuliia Paievska, who was captured by the Russians in Mariupol in March and suffered, along with untold others, torture at the hands of her captors:
Searing descriptions of the suffering of detainees poured out…
Torture sessions usually launched with their captors forcing the Ukrainian prisoners to remove their clothes, before the Russians set to bloodying and tormenting the detainees, she said.
The result was some “prisoners in cells screaming for weeks, and then dying from the torture without any medical help,” she said. “Then in this torment of hell, the only things they feel before death is abuse and additional beating.”
The Geneva Conventions single out medics, both military and civilian, for protection “in all circumstance.” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and co-chair of the Helsinki Commission underscored that the conditions she described for civilian and military detainees violated international law.
Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
Ukraine’s government says it has documented nearly 34,000 Russian war crimes since the war began in February. The International Criminal Court and 14 European Union member nations also have launched investigations.
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine says it has documented that prisoners of war in Russian custody have suffered torture and ill-treatment, as well as insufficient food, water healthcare and sanitation.
But sure, in light of all of this, let’s allow Russia’s Lavrov waltz right into New York City to attend the sham UN General Assembly meeting where today UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said with a straight face, “We face a world in peril across our work to advance peace, human rights…”
Along the same lines, the Biden administration is actually and unbelievably considering granting President Raisi of Iran an entry visa to the U.S. so that he too can attend the UN General Assembly. Some members of Congress are working on legislation to prevent that from happening:
Congress is moving to prevent Iran’s president from entering the United States to attend U.N. proceedings but is facing resistance from the Biden administration, which says it is “obligated” to allow the hardline president into the country.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is circulating a bill that would bar all officials tied to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, including President Ebrahim Raisi, from obtaining the U.S. visa necessary to attend a meeting of the United Nations’ General Assembly, which is taking place this month in New York City.
This pressure campaign has failed, however, with the Biden administration claiming it is “obligated” under U.S. law to allow Raisi into the United States. “As host nation of the U.N., the United States is generally obligated under the U.N. Headquarters Agreement to facilitate travel to the U.N. headquarters district by representatives of U.N. member states,” a State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon. “We take our obligations under the U.N. Headquarters Agreement seriously.”
It seems that the administration is unclear about what the parameters of those obligations are, and whether the U.S. has the ability to deny visas under certain circumstances and for various reason:
U.S. law enables the president to deny visas to foreign officials who engage in “espionage” or pose a direct threat to national security. Raisi could likely be denied a visa for engaging in “terrorist activities,” given that he helms the Islamic Republic’s regional militant operations. Raisi also gave a speech in January in which he threatened to assassinate Pompeo and former president Donald Trump.
The State Department this year also listed Raisi as a major human rights abuser under the 2012 Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act—a designation that could allow the Biden administration to deny him a visa.
Moreover, the US denied visas to several Iranian officials who were involved in the taking of American diplomatic hostages during the Iranian revolution.
In 1987, the U.S. government declared Austrian President Kurt Waldheim ineligible for a visa because of his responsibility for the persecution of Jews and other civilians during World War II. Washington also refused to let Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat visit in 1988 because of his responsibility for acts of terrorism.
The pressure on the White House increased last week when a letter sent to President Biden, signed by a bipartisan group of 52 lawmakers, strongly urged him to deny an entry visa for Raisi:
As long as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi supports terrorism, attempts to kill U.S. citizens & Iranian political dissidents in the U.S., & violates human rights, he should not be able to step on American soil.
— Young Kim (@RepYoungKim) September 9, 2022
And today in New York City, protesters were outside of the United Nations buildings demanding that Raisi not be allowed to enter the United States:
Electronic signs on trucks.
— DataInput (@datainput) September 15, 2022
It’s despicable that President Biden would consider a man like President Raisi to enter the U.S. – for any reason. By doing so would signal to the world that we, as a nation, are not serious about human rights and the violations therein. As has been said: Even by the standards of the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran, Raisi is not a run-of-the-mill politician. He has been a driving force behind the state’s pervasive abuse of its citizens over the past four decades. Allowing Raisi to visit the United States while the regime he represents is plotting to kill Americans is a mistake.
The gross hypocrisy of the U.N. knows no bounds. The cruelty of Iran’s leader(s) knows no bounds:
22 years old woman Mahsa Amini suffers a heart attack after being arrested by morality police for wearing an inappropriate hijab.
Doctors said that they cannot save her life.
This is the brutality of the Islamic Republic of Iran that has a seat at UN to monitor women’s rights globally. pic.twitter.com/Ko04zdadm9
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 14, 2022
President Biden is obligated to deny Raisi a visa for entry into the United States.