Iran will not name a new diplomat to the United Nations, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on Saturday, after the United States refused to issue a visa to Tehran’s original pick.

Iran will stick to its choice for the job, Hamid Abutalebi, and will not provide an alternative, Mr. Araghchi told the Mehr news agency.

He accused Washington of breaching international law, and said Tehran would take legal action.

Mr. Abutalebi was a member of a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year after seizing the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Mr. Abutalebi says he was only a translator at the time.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday: “We have informed the United Nations and Iran that we will not issue a visa to (Hamid Abutalebi).” The announcement followed passage by the US Congress on Thursday of a proposed law that authorises the president to deny visas to any UN representatives who have engaged in terrorist acts against the country.

The US is normally obligated, as the host of the United Nations, to issue visas to foreign diplomats and to heads of state attending the annual General Assembly, no matter how antagonistic current relations with Washington are.

The White House has repeatedly said the selection of Mr. Abutalebi as the UN ambassador was not “viable.”

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