Biden Admin Grants Iranian Foreign Minister Visa To Enter US Days After Israel Strike

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
April 15, 2024

The Biden administration has granted Iran’s foreign minister a U.S. visa so that he can attend upcoming United Nations proceedings in New York City, generating outrage in the wake of Tehran’s weekend strike on Israel.

Lawmakers are already calling on the Biden administration to revoke Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s entry visa into America, which will enable him to attend U.N. meetings later this week, the Washington Free Beacon has learned. While the State Department would not confirm whether it had granted the Iranian diplomat an entry visa, regional outlets are reporting that a U.S. entry visa has already been issued.

Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.), in a letter sent Monday to the State Department and obtained by the Free Beacon, demanded "immediate action to revoke the visa of Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian," appearing to confirm the regional reports.

"In the wake of Saturday’s direct attack by Iran on our ally, Israel, we urge you to prevent Iran from using American soil as a platform to amplify its anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric," Lankford wrote, referring to a weekend missile attack by Iran on Israel that threatens to spark a regional war.

Amir-Abdollahian is scheduled to attend U.N. sessions this week surrounding the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the matter when approached by the Free Beacon, referring a reporter to a press briefing late last week by spokesman Matthew Miller.

"We never speak to visa records. They’re confidential by law, and so I can’t speak to visa records from here," Miller told reporters in response to questions about the status of Amir-Abdollahian’s visa. "But as has long been the case, we take our obligations as the host of the United Nations very seriously."

The Biden administration has issued visas for Iranian delegations several times in the past, citing the U.S.’s obligations as the United Nations’ host nation. Iran claims it warned the United States in advance of its attack on Israel, and the Biden administration is already pressuring Israel to avoid a retaliatory strike on Tehran, warning it could spark a full blown conflict across the Middle East.

But Lankford says this justification holds no weight.

"Given his ties to terrorism against Israel and U.S. forces, Amir-Abdollahian should not be welcome in our country," the senator wrote. "The United States holds the authority to deny visas to diplomats for security, terrorism, or foreign policy reasons."

The Obama administration exercised this power in 2014 when it denied Iran’s then-ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, a visa.

"Not only does Amir-Abdollahian have irrefutable ties to Hamas terrorists who are currently holding 133 hostages, including five Americans, but Iran’s irresponsible strikes and continued threats have jeopardized Israel’s security," Lankford wrote. "I urge the administration to take swift action and deny Amir-Abdollahian’s entry to the United States."

"Joe Biden’s disturbing pattern of weakness on the world stage green-lit Iran’s attack on Israel, and now, the president has the audacity to try and dictate Israel’s response," said Republican majority whip Tom Emmer (R., Minn.). "This administration’s incompetent foreign policy will slow-walk us into World War III if left unchecked."

Activist groups were also pressing the Biden administration to bar Amir-Abdollahian from entering America, citing Tehran’s backing for Hamas and other terrorist proxy groups that are conducting terrorism operations against Israel and U.S. forces in the region.

Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against a Nuclear Iran, a watchdog group that has pressed the United States to block the Iranian foreign minister from entering America, said there is no obligation to allow representatives of the globe’s foremost terror sponsor to enter the country.

"Taking the U.S. obligations as host of the United Nations very seriously should not be a blank check for any foreign official from a hostile power to be admitted to the United States," Brodsky said. "There have to be standards here. Washington has a sovereign right to deny visas for security, terrorism, or foreign policy reasons, irrespective of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement."

Amir-Abdollahian, in addition to his role as foreign minister, is also "a card-carrying member of a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—which presents a lethal threat to Americans," Brodsky said. "He should not be admitted to the United States."