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Iran Bans 3 U.S. Congressmen's Visit After Nuclear Deal Critique

by The Associated Press /
The Iranian flag flies in front of a United Nations building in 2014. Ronald Zak / AP file

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Iran said Tuesday it would not grant visas to three U.S. congressmen opposed to its recent nuclear deal with world powers, 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 in the House 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.

Related: Iran Sanctions Lifted After Nuclear Watchdog Verifies Compliance

In a letter released Tuesday in Tehran, Iran's Foreign Ministry 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".

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"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.

In a statement, LoBiondo said it was "deeply disappointing, though not surprising" that Iran denied "our legitimate request with insults and deflections."

Pompeo said in a statement he still wanted Iran to grant him a visa, even though the country continues to "act as a rogue and hostile nation."

The congressmen say they asked for visas in February to observe Iran's parliamentary elections, see "American hostages" and visit three nuclear facilities.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency said the lawmakers hoped to receive a military briefing about the brief detention of 10 U.S. Navy sailors in January who entered Iranian waters off Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf.

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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