US imposes travel bans on Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York

US imposes travel bans on Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York

The US has tightly restricted the travel of more than a dozen Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York, according to a US diplomatic note to sent to the Iran Mission to the United Nations and seen by Reuters.

The diplomats are subjected to the same rules imposed by the United States on Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who arrived on Sunday amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

They may only travel between the United Nations, the Iranian U.N. mission, the Iranian U.N. ambassador’s residence, and John F. Kennedy airport. There is also a carve-out for the six blocks surrounding Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City in the borough of Queens. It was not immediately clear why.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he granted a visa to Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Zarif and his delegation to visit New York, primarily to meet US obligations to the United Nations, but that his movements would be sharply curtailed.

US grants visa to Iran's Zarif for UN meeting, limits him and delegation to 6 blocks (2)

“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.

Zarif is in New York to attend a meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council, a high-level ministerial meeting on sustainable development goals for issues that include conflict, hunger, gender equality and climate change.

US grants visa to Iran's Zarif for UN meeting, limits him and delegation to 6 blocks

“Foreign Minister Zarif uses the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malicious propaganda,” Pompeo said. “This is a leader who supports a regime that imprisons political dissidents and terribly treats women. They are looking for peaceful worshipers. He is the mouthpiece of this autocracy. And they suppress the freedom of speech. ”

Pompeo said he would accept any offer to go to Iranian television, just as Zarif has appeared on US television. He said he would tell the Iranians that “we are very interested in them, that we support the Iranian people, that we understand that the revolutionary theocracy is not acting in a way that is in their best interests.”

Iran recently started enriching uranium beyond a limit established in a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, a deal from which Trump withdrew. Trump has since intensified economic sanctions on Tehran, and tensions have escalated.