US places six-block radius travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats
The US has placed extreme travel restrictions on Iranian officials visiting the country or assigned to the United Nations in New York, sparking concern from the world body.
Representatives from the Islamic Republic and a number of other countries are already subject to some limitations on their movements while posted in the United States.
The new rules on Iranians have been touted as the most restrictive measures put on diplomats or government officials while based in the US by Washington.
The new limitations were imposed just as Iran's foreign minister was preparing to arrive in New York for UN meetings this week.
Visiting officials, Iranian diplomats posted at the country's UN mission and their families will now only be allowed to travel to Kennedy airport and three places in Manhattan: the mission, the Iranian ambassador's residence and a six-block radius that include the UN headquarters, according to a diplomatic note sent Saturday to Iranian officials and seen by the Associated Press.
The diplomats will be allowed to seek waivers for housing or hotels, but it is not known whether waives whether they could apply to doctors' appointments, children's schooling or other activities.
The previous policy allowed Iranian representatives to the UN to travel within a 25-mile radius of Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan.
The new restrictions have been implemented amid rising tensions between the two adversaries.
"It is certainly not a friendly action," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters Wednesday at the UN.
Zarif said that while he did not personally need to go beyond the permitted places, the new restrictions created "basically inhuman conditions" for the mission's diplomats and their families.
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the organisation had raised concerns about the limitations with both the US and Iranian missions.
The US State Department hit back, claiming the restrictions were "fully consistent with our obligations" as the UN's host country.
"The US intends to stick to its obligations," it said on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Washington Post that it was "absolutely appropriate" for Iran's foreign minister to have some travel rights, but "nothing more than that".
"US diplomats don't roam around Tehran, so we don't see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either," he said.
The US also imposes travel restrictions on UN diplomats from China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia and Syria.