As though Congress’ bipartisan approval this week of an anti-terrorist bill — a bill that bars a 1979 Iranian hostage-taker from serving at the U.N. — needed further validation, Iran’s foreign minister made sure to drive the point home Thursday, calling the U.S. Congress a bunch of “radicals.”
The comments, proffered by Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, came in the wake of the Senate’s overwhelming passage Monday of a bill sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to keep Hamid Abutalebi — a militant terrorist who assisted in capturing American hostages as a participant in the 1979 hostage crisis — from setting foot on U.S. soil.
So strong was the bipartisan sentiment for that measure that even prominent Senate Democrats like Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke unequivocally in its favor. “It may be a case of strange bedfellows,” said Schumer at the time, “but I’m glad Senator Cruz and I were able to work out a bill that would prevent this terrorist from stepping foot on American soil.”
On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister displayed nothing but contempt for the vote — and the Senate — in an interview with Iranian media while in Austria.
“They [the U.N.] should not allow a group of radicals to determine the agenda of Iran’s presence at the United Nations organization and this behavior is unacceptable to us,” said Mohammed Javad Zarif to Iranian reporters in Austria. “The U.S. decision to deny a visa to Iran’s appointed diplomat is unacceptable for us. There are channels to follow this issue in the United Nations, and we will decide on the best way to follow this. The U.S. administration is well aware of the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the visa denial unacceptable.”
On that last point, the foreign minister is certainly correct. What’s interesting, though, is to contrast the tone of the Senators’ comments with those offered by the Obama Administration.
Cruz, the bill’s sponsor, laid out the case against rolling out the welcome mat for Abutalebi in plain language last week.
“This nomination is part of Iran’s clear and consistent pattern of virulent anti-Americanism that has defined their foreign policy since 1979,” he said Monday. “We need to send Tehran an equally clear message: The United States Senate is not going to just ignore this most recent insult, but is going to give our President the authority to affirmatively reject it.”
As you’ve already read, Senator Schumer didn’t mince words, either.
Now here’s Jay Carney on Tuesday, telling reporters the Obama Administration’s position:
“The U.S. government has informed the government of Iran that this potential selection is not viable.”
Only on Downton Abbey could that kind of phrasing be considered an ultimate dis.
Beat ‘em up, Jay.