Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) took to Twitter on Wednesday to challenge Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to a debate.
In a series of tweets Cotton dared Zarif, Iran’s top diplomat and nuclear negotiator, to come to Washington, DC at a time of his “choosing” and “debate the Constitution” along with “Iran’s record of tyranny, treachery, & terror.”
But Cotton botched a crucial detail in his Twitter challenge. There is no way Zarif could currently meet Cotton in Washington.
Citizens of nations that have hostile relationships with the US, including diplomats, often face travel restrictions when they are permitted to enter the United States. Zarif is no exception, and Iran’s top diplomat is not currently allowed to travel to Washington.
Zarif was in New York City this week to attend the United Nations’ bi-decadal review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. A knowledgeable source confirmed Zarif was in the US on a diplomatic visa to attend the UN conference. That visa does not permit him to leave the New York area.
Cotton’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider asking whether he was aware of this restriction and if he would be open to a venue change for his proposed debate.
Cotton’s messages to Zarif came after the Iranian official took a shot at the senator during a public discussion at New York University on Wednesday. At that event, Zarif said there would be “chaos” if Republicans attempted to undo President Barack Obama’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.
Zarif took specific aim at Cotton, who was the lead signatory on a March 9th open letter from Senate Republicans that warned the Iranian government that a future president might reverse any deal Obama reaches without input from Congress.
“You know that, maybe Sen. Cotton doesn’t, but you know that 90% of US overseas agreements are executive agreements,” Zarif said.
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