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Three GOP Congressman Are Trolling Iran, Asking if They Can Be Election Monitors

Reps. Mike Pompeo, Lee Zeldin, and Frank LoBiondo — all opponents of the recent Iran nuclear deal — formally requested visas to visit the country.
Photo via EPA

Three conservative GOP congressmen appear to be trolling Iran. In a letter released on Thursday, they ask for permission to monitor Iranian elections later this month — and also demanded to personally visit nuclear sites, and to be briefed by Iranian officials on the country's missile capabilities.

Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) all filed visa applications at the office representing Iran in Washington on Thursday, formally asking for permission to visit the country. They also sent personal letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the head of the Revolutionary Guard Mohammad Ali Jafari, explaining their reasoning. "The primary reason for our visit to Iran is to observe your elections," the letter reads, calling the upcoming parliamentary and clerical elections "a historic occasion."


Later this month, Iranians will hold elections for their parliament and for a powerful clerical body that will eventually select the country's next Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council, which oversees those elections, barred many candidates perceived to be moderates or reformers from participating. Indeed nearly 40 percent of the 12,000 candidates who applied to run for parliament were banned by the council.

"We are concerned by reports that the Guardian Council has disqualified the vast majority of 'reform" candidates," the letter reads. "We welcome the opportunity to be convinced that these elections will be fair and free."

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All three Congressmen were leading voices against the Iran nuclear deal championed by President Obama, which cleared the way for international inspectors to monitor Iran's nuclear facilities. But in their letter, the congressmen suggested that they could personally serve as nuclear inspectors during their visit. They proposed to inspect three Iranian facilities: Parchin, Fordow, and Arak, all sites that have long been suspected to play some role in Iran's nuclear program.

"It would be of great value to our bilateral relationship, as we work together to Monitor US and Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal to allow us to inspect these facilities," the congressmen wrote.


As per the nuclear deal, Iran's nuclear supply chain and enrichment activity will be monitored by representatives of the International Atomic Energy Commission. But Congressmen Zelin appeared skeptical that would be enough.

"Americans deserve credible, first hand confirmation of what present day reality is in Iran, regarding the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal," he said in a statement.

Congressmen Pompeo argued that Iran's response to their request would speak volumes about its commitment to peaceful relations with the US.

"If Iran is truly a partner in peace, as President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry claim, then Iranian leaders should have no problem granting our visas and arranging the requested agenda," he wrote in a statement. "I look forward to receiving a timely response from Iran."

In addition to their request to visit nuclear facilities and observe elections, the Congressmen also made a series of other requests. They asked to to be briefed on Iran's mid-range ballistic weapon program, to hold "an unmonitored and lengthy" meeting with Iranian-American businessman Siamak Manmi, who's currently in Iranian prison, and to speak with Iran's Revolutionary Guard about the brief detention of American sailors who strayed into Iranian waters last month.

So far, Iran has not publicly responded to the request.