Iran Says New U.S. Visa Rule May Violate Nuclear Pact

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, told state media on Monday that the visa restriction was an “obstacle, placed by some individuals,” that he hoped would soon be resolved. Mr. Zarif referred to a letter sent by Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, asserting that the restriction would not affect the nuclear agreement.


The letter, obtained and leaked by the National Iranian American Council, an advocacy group based in Washington, hinted that President Obama would use his executive authority to exempt Iran from the visa restriction, which was passed almost unanimously in Congress. Mr. Obama signed it into law on Friday.


The restriction, a security step arising from the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., prohibits visa-free travel to the United States for anyone who has visited or holds citizenship in Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Iran.


Precisely why Iran was included on the list is unclear, since it is a foe of the Islamic State, the militant extremist group accused of organizing or fomenting the attacks.


Iranian politicians, especially hard-liners who harbor great antipathy toward the United States, are saying the measure will be an obstacle to trade after the implementation of the nuclear agreement and the lifting of the first sanctions against Iran, scheduled in late January.


Mr. Kerry is now promising that this will not be an outcome of the visa restrictions. “We will implement them so as not to interfere with legitimate business interests of Iran,” he wrote in the letter.


Read More: Iran Says New U.S. Visa Rule May Violate Nuclear Pact – The New York Times