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Three US congressmen ask to visit Iran to monitor upcoming elections

Among the other requests asked by the congressmen includes meeting with top Iranian officials and visiting the country’s main nuclear facilities
The US and Iran agreed to a landmark nuclear deal that saw Iran's nuclear capacity diminished in return for the gradual lifting of sanctions (AFP)

Seeking to keep tabs on what they called a "fanatical regime," three hawkish US Republican lawmakers applied on Thursday for visas to Iran to observe this month's elections, visit nuclear sites and meet with Revolutionary Guards.

The approval of the visas appears unlikely despite the improvement of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran following the completion of a landmark nuclear deal last year, which saw sanctions lifted against the country.

Republicans Mike Pompeo, Lee Zeldin and Frank LoBiondo hand-delivered their applications to the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, and wrote to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, seeking their assistance.

"We look forward to seeing Iranian democracy in action" during the 26 February parliamentary election, the trio wrote in their letter, a copy of which was posted on Pompeo's website.

Internal tensions have been raised within Iran over the elections, with President Hassan Rouhani criticising moves to exclude thousands of candidates, mostly reformists sidelined from Iranian politics since the disputed 2009 re-election of hardline conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Americans deserve credible, first-hand confirmation of what present-day reality is in Iran, regarding the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, status of American hostages and foreign policy objectives of Iranian leaders,” Zeldin said in a statement.

“If Iran is truly a partner in peace, as President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry claim, then Iranian leaders should have no problem granting our visas and arranging the requested agenda,” added Pompeo. “I look forward to receiving a timely response from Iran.”

Among the other requests asked by the Congressmen includes meeting with top Iranian officials, visiting the country’s main nuclear facilities, and being briefed on Iran’s missile tests and the detention of 10 Navy sailors that took place in January.

No sitting member of Congress is believed to have travelled to the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution, although a former congressman, Democrat Jim Slattery, said he made a pioneering trip there in late 2014.

The lawmakers were more aggressive in their language in the statement accompanying the formal letter.

US President Barack Obama "has consistently rewarded Iran's depraved behaviour, providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief to this fanatical regime through implementation of his dangerous nuclear agreement," Pompeo said.

"Given the recent changes brought about by these actions, it is critical that we, as members of Congress, visit Iran and verify whether or not this country will uphold the terms of the nuclear deal."

LoBiondo said approval of the visas would be "a sign of good faith" from Tehran.

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