Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decided to cancel a trip to New York to address the U.N. Security Council before it votes Saturday to impose stronger sanctions against his country for refusing to stop enriching uranium, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
"We will be united again on this important resolution," French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere told reporters after a closed-door Security Council meeting. "We hope that Iran will reflect on this resolution and make the right choice."
According to the AP, the sanctions would ban Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 individuals and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. About a third of those are linked to the Revolutionary Guard.
Alejandro Wolff, the acting U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called the sanctions "serious measures that underscore the severity with which the council views rejection of its resolutions."
The Iranian leader has recently said that he wanted to take his case for pursuing nuclear power to the Security Council himself. Earlier Friday, a council diplomat said the Iranian president would arrive in New York at 1 a.m. Saturday, just hours before the council is set to convene.
But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini told Iranian state television later in the day that the trip had been scrapped because of "America's obstruction in issuing visas" to the Iranian delegation that was to travel to New York. According to Hosseini, instead of Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will attend the Security Council meeting and "explain Iran's position regarding its nuclear activities."
"Due to open failure by the United States to issue visas for members of the Iranian delegation accompanying President Ahmadinejad and the air crew, American authorities have effectively prevented President Ahmadinejad from attending the U.N. security council meeting," Hosseini said.
Mohammad Mir Ali Mohammadi, press secretary for Iran's mission to the U.N., told The Associated Press that the United States did not deliver a visa to the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, in time for Ahmadinejad to pick it up before flying to New York for the Saturday session.