Iran blames ‘Zionist lobby’ for passage of new U.S. visa waiver law


(JTA) — Iran’s Foreign Ministry blamed supporters of Israel for a new U.S. visa waiver law that excludes Iranian citizens and visitors to Iran from visa-free travel to the United States.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, told a televised news conference on Sunday that the measure, which allows visa-free travel to the United States for citizens of 38 countries, most in Europe, was passed “under pressure from the Zionist lobby and currents opposed to the JCPOA,” according to Reuters.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the nuclear deal reached in July between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S. — lifts sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for a dialing back of its nuclear program. Israel and many American Jewish groups opposed the pact.

President Barack Obama signed the visa measure passed by Congress into law on Friday.

Along with Iran, citizens of Iraq, Syria and Sudan, as well as visitors to those countries in the past five years, are excluded. Israeli citizens must apply for a visa, though dual U.S.-Israeli citizens may enter without a visa.

Ansari also said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter to Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, “explicitly assured him that using all instruments under its authority, the U.S. administration will not allow the law to create any obstacle to Iran’s economic interests,” according to the Iranian Fars news agency.

The measure was introduced following the terror attacks in Paris. Several of the terrorists held European passports and had recently visited Islamic State strongholds in Syria.

On Monday, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said passing the waiver law “increased misunderstanding and mistrust” and could damage the fulfillment of the Iran nuclear deal, according to Fars.

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