Hamid Aboutalebi

The U.S. Senate has voted to bar Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran’s potential new envoy to the UN, from acquiring a visa to enter the United States.

Aboutalebi is the political deputy in the Iranian president’s office; however, his appointment to be Iran’s ambassador to the UN has not been officially announced.

Earlier, the U.S. State Department had expressed concern about Aboutalebi’s possible appointment, and today, in a unanimous oral vote, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to bar him from entering the U.S.

Aboutalebi was a member of the Iranian student group Followers of the Imam’s Path, which was involved in the takeover of the U.S. embassy in November of 1979 that led to the hostage crisis and severed Iran-U.S. diplomatic relations to this day.

Aboutalebi has said, however, that he only acted as translator for the student group in 1979 and was not directly involved in the hostage taking.

Today’s bill must be approved by the House of Representatives and then be signed by the president before it can be implemented.