WASHINGTON – The Iranian President's visits
to New York are always a cause for tension. Before arriving at the Big Apple for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, questions of who will agree to host him, who will remain in the event hall during his speech and how many protestors will gather outside begin to pop.
One of the organizations spearheading the public campaign to boycott Ahmadinejad's visit is United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which has put pressure on 35 luxury hotels in New York to refuse to host the president and his entourage.
During Ahmadinejad's previous visit in September, several hotels refused to accommodate the Iranian delegation, and the president was forced to conduct all of his activities in one hotel.
Ahmadinejad leaves for New York (Photo:AFP)
UANI President Mark Wallace wrote a letter addressed to the owners of New York's largest hotels, in which he said no American body should host an illegal regime, and called to isolate and condemn the Iranian government. UANI has already recorded several successes when it managed to convince large companies to cut trade ties with Iran.
Meanwhile, several Republican senators appealed to the White House and demanded to prevent Ahmadinejad from landing in New York. However, the American administration – like its predecessor – is obliged to allow all UN member-states' representatives to visit the organization's headquarters and roam freely in a radius of up to 40 km (about 24 miles) from the UN building.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was already preparing for Ahmadinejad's appearance at the UN plenum, and has requested UN ambassadors to leave the hall during the president's speech. The organization will publish ads in major American newspapers, which urge UN ambassadors to boycott the speech.
The Christian Evangelistic organization, which is known to support Israel,
published a statement calling on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is heading the American delegation at the conference, to also boycott Ahmadinejad's speech.
Despite the calls, the Iranian president is expected to address the conference Monday morning.
Earlier, Clinton commented on Ahmadinejad's visit and said it's clear that Iran is in violation of a treaty designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Clinton told NBC's "Meet the Press" that his trip is an effort to divert attention and confuse people about Iran's violation of the treaty.
She further said she did not see Iran's purpose in attending the NPT conference and expressed concern that Ahmadinejad would "somehow divert attention from this very important global effort or cause confusion that might possibly throw into doubt what Iran has been up to... I don't believe he will have a particularly receptive audience."