US changes visa policy, Iran blames Israel
US Congress may have passed a measure signed into law by US President Barack Obama last Friday, blocking visa-free travel to the US by Iranian nationals or those who visited Iran, but according to Tehran it is Israel that is to blame.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari said that the measure was passed “under pressure from the Zionist lobby and currents opposed to the JCPOA,” in reference to the Iran nuclear deal, reports Reuters on Monday.
Aside from Iran, other countries included in the measure are Iraq, Syria and Sudan. The move is meant to prevent the influx of terrorists in the wake of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks in Paris and the shooting attack by ISIS supporter jihadists in San Bernardino, California.
Iran, a Shi’ite Islamic regime which is fighting the Sunni ISIS, said the move was invalid and meant to undermine the controversial nuclear deal, although Iran is in fact the leading state sponsor of terror in the world.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Al Monitor on Friday that “no Iranian nor anybody who visited Iran had anything to do with the tragedies that have taken place in Paris or in San Bernardino or anywhere else.”
Some Iranian officials have claimed the visa move constitutes a new sanction that endangers the nuclear deal, even though the US has specified the deal only called to lift the sanctions on the Islamic regime’s nuclear program.
US Secretary of State John Kerry quickly tried to play down the matter, writing Zarif on Saturday to say the US remains committed to the nuclear deal and that the visa matter can be waived in individual cases.
Regarding the nuclear deal, Iran has already breached the agreement on several counts.
In October Iran held a ballistic missile test that White House spokesman Josh Earnest admitted likely violated UN sanctions. Last Tuesday, a UN panel confirmed that Iran violated a UN Security Council resolution when it test fired the missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
The UN panel’s report came days after officials told Fox News that Iran tested a ballistic missile for a second time on November 21.
In the wake of the breaches, a group of US Senators last Wednesday called on Obama not to lift the sanctions on Iran over its “blatant disregard for its international obligations.”