In a September 11 FoxNews.com op-ed that misleads about President Obama's Iran policy and the effect of sanctions, Anne Bayefsky asserted that President Obama has facilitated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by allowing him to speak to the United Nations General Assembly on September 26. But granting Ahmadinejad a visa to appear at the United Nations is not an indication of Obama's foreign policy leanings and is in line with precedent set by the Bush administration.
Under the headline "The White House hands Iran's Ahmadinejad a global megaphone," Bayefsky writes:
It is a moral outrage that the Obama administration is facilitating Ahmadinejad's return to the United States in September of 2012.
Many argue that the 1947 Headquarters Agreement between the UN and the U.S. leaves no room for the White House to maneuver on this point. The deal that was struck states that the U.S. government "shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district" (a defined area in New York City's east side) to a representative of a UN member state.
But the same agreement also says the following: "It is agreed that no form of racial or religious discrimination shall be permitted within the headquarters district."
But there is a precedent for granting Ahmadinejad a visa for a U.N. visit: The Bush administration did so as well.
ABC News reported in 2005 that Ahmadinejad was being granted a visa by the Bush State Department to give a speech at the U.N. despite considering him a terrorist. ABC added that "according to the State Department, no head of state has ever been denied a visa to attend the U.N. General Assembly." The Bush administration also granted Ahmadinejad a visa to address the U.N. Security Council in 2007.
Bayefsky went on to claim that helping Ahmadinejad is a key part of President Obama's foreign policy:
But the Obama administration is not enabling Ahmadinejad's warmongering hate speech just because today's state department lawyers assert that their hands are tied. Legitimizing the presence of the Iranian president in the United States on the world stage is a key tenet of President Obama's foreign policy. It goes by various lofty names like "diplomacy" or "engagement."
In fact, President Obama has made it clear that his policy is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and he has signed strong sanctions against Iran. In joint remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama called a nuclear-armed Iran a danger to both Israeli and United States' security interests, saying:
And as I emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it.