Sunday, September 14, 2008


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should deny the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, entry to the United States. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am asking Miss Rice to ban Mr. Ahmadinejad, a major sponsor of fundamentalist Islam and an enemy of the United States, from entering our country.

The United Nations General Assembly will open its 63rd session in New York this month. The president of Iran is scheduled to take his seat at the U.N. table and address the chamber.

For Mr. Ahmadinejad to enter the United States, the administration is required to waive section 212(a)3(b) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The act stipulates that individuals with terrorist ties not be granted visas to enter the United States. The Iranian president fits squarely into this category. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit to the U.S. will be permitted under an agreement that allows world leaders access to the United Nations Headquarters.

The facts are undeniable. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a stated enemy of the United States and other democratic nations that value liberty and freedom. Iran’s leaders continue to pursue development and acquisition of nuclear weapon capabilities. They continue to support terrorist organizations around the world and facilitate the training of insurgents in Iraq. Iran has called for destruction of the democratic state of Israel. These actions illustrate Iran’s overly hostile intentions. As a result of these and other outrages, the United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran for nearly 30 years.

There is a precedent. The Reagan administration denied Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat a visa to participate at the U.N. General Assembly in 1988 based on his connections to terrorism. The State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 designates Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation is due largely to the Iranian military’s support of terrorist organizations. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s refusal to prohibit Iran’s military from supporting terrorists makes him a willing accomplice.

Iran claims its nuclear programs are intended for civilian use. Iran’s unwillingness to comply with international safeguards and inspections results in a loss of credibility in regard to nuclear technology. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s bellicose threats toward the United States and Israel graphically demonstrate that Iran’s nuclear program is not intended for civilian use.

The United Nations has imposed limited and largely meaningless sanctions against this totalitarian regime. The world body has attempted to rein in Iran for its support of terrorism. Yet it intends to provide the Iranian leader with a pulpit to espouse his brand of Islamic fundamentalism.

Mr. Ahmadinejad knows he needn’t compromise his views in order to address the United Nations. The extremist leader will continue to thumb his nose at the global community and shrug off concerns regarding his nuclear intentions. He knows he can threaten the security of the United States and still receive his U.N. invitation to New York - an invitation that will allow him to spread his message of hate on the world stage.

It is unfortunate that the United Nations allows Iran to participate in the General Assembly while Iran’s leaders are openly working in support of global terrorism. The U.N. can be a place for negotiation and an avenue for giving all nations a voice. However, it should not serve to legitimize state supporters of terrorism and their violent methods.

The men and women of the U.S. military are fighting against the extremist terrorist organizations that President Ahmadinejad protects and supports. The United States should not grant Iran’s president a visa to enter our country. I call on Secretary Rice to stand firm and deny the hatemongering Iranian president the international legitimacy he so craves.

John Barrasso is a Republican member of the United States Senate from Wyoming and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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