Iran refuses to grant visas to congressmen amid nuclear deal row

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Iran said Tuesday it would not grant visas to three U.S. congressmen opposed to the nuclear deal, calling their request to monitor the accord a "publicity stunt."

The three Republican lawmakers — Reps. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Lee Zeldin of New York — all voted against the deal and are part of a GOP backlash against the pact negotiated by Democratic President Barack Obama's administration. The accord limited Iran's ability to enrich uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said in a letter it refused the request over "the completely inappropriate way you have demanded to visit Iran and interfere in what is of no relevance to (your) official functions.'"

"Despite what you seem to presume, (members) of the U.S. Congress do not get to dictate the policies of other countries," the letter read.

The congressmen asked in February to observe Iran's parliamentary elections, see "American hostages" and visit three nuclear facilities. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency also said they wanted to discuss Iran's brief detention of 10 U.S. Navy sailors in January.

LoBiondo said it was "deeply disappointing, though not surprising" that Iran denied "our legitimate request with insults and deflections." Pompeo said he still wanted Iran to grant him a visa, even though the country continues to "act as a rogue and hostile nation."

Zeldin, meanwhile, said Iran's response "spits in the face of the freedom-loving world."

"While Obama and (Secretary of State John) Kerry prop up the wrong regime, one opportunity after another is being missed to replace these Iranian thugs with true leaders and peaceful actors," Zeldin said.