Laramie, Wyo. – Sen. John Barrasso says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an enemy of the United States, and trains terrorists to fight American troops.
He wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday, asking her to deny the Iranian president a visa. He is set to speak in New York at the United Nations Sept. 23.
University of Wyoming International Law Professor Timothy Kearley says barring Ahmadinejad's entrance is essentially illegal.
"We have obligations to the UN as an organization," Kearley says.
That's because, Kearley says, the US signed a treaty in 1947 that promised to allow any invited guest access to the UN.
"It's pretty clear it would be more of a gesture to indicate our disapproval of him."
Barrasso claims there is precedent for denying visas. In 1988, the Reagan Administration barred Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from speaking at the UN. Kearley says that stirred a barrage of outcry that the US had violated international law.
"In a presidential election year, you can see why both parties might want to be reassuring American Jews that they are in full support of Israel," Kearley says.
"So you can see and understand it as a domestic political issue, but on an international level, it doesn't make much sense to ban people who you really need to talk to ensure international peace."