Iran’s Zarif confined to 6 block radius in midtown Manhattan

Iran’s foreign minister can’t roam the streets of New York City. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is in New York City for meetings at the United Nations, might be said to be under six-block arrest. Zarif’s visa comes with tough limits – he can’t roam beyond that distance from the Iranian mission in midtown Manhattan.

“U.S. diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Washington Post on Sunday. “Foreign Minister Zarif, he uses the freedoms of the United States to come here and spread malign propaganda.”

“We don’t need to let Iranians roam freely in New York City,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said, echoing Pompeo.

The restrictions will be enough for Zarif to travel between the U.N., the Iranian U.N. mission, and the Iranian ambassador’s residence.

“Putting restrictions on his presence in some streets in New York will certainly not affect his work schedule,” said Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Zarif arrived on Sunday in order to address the U.N. Economic and Social Council on sustainable development, which he will do on Wednesday. He will also meet with think tanks and journalists, The Washington Post reports. He has already conducted an interview with NBC.

Reuters reports that there are precedents for the restrictions placed on Zarif. It notes that Iranian diplomats are already confined to a 25-mile radius from Columbus Circle in Manhattan as are the envoys of North Korea, Syria and Cuba.

In April 2014, the U.S. denied a visa to Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Hamid Abutalebi, because of his links to the 1979-1981 Tehran hostage crisis, the news wire reports. The crisis involved the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by student radicals. Fifty two Americans were held captive for 444 days.

“Abutalebi said he acted only as a translator,” Reuters says.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have escalated in recent months with the U.S. sending a carrier task force group to the Persian Gulf after unspecified threats it said Iran made against U.S. forces in the region. Most recently, following a British seizure of an Iranian supertanker near Gibraltar, Iran threatened a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. and Britain have discussed creating a military coalition to defend their oil shipping in the Gulf.