Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Iran's selection of Hamid Aboutalebi as its ambassador at the United Nations is a "slap in the face."
During a Thursday appearance on Fox News, Cruz called the appointment "dismaying" and said it's "another indication of how radical, how extreme, how anti-American Iran is."
"This is not an accident, that they nominate and name, an admitted terrorist, someone who participated in holding Americans hostage for 444 days, and they propose to send him as their ambassador to the U.N., to live in New York City, in Manhattan," Cruz said. "It's designed to be a slap in the face."
Aboutalebi was a member of a Muslim student group that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. He reportedly has insisted that his involvement in the group — Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line — was limited to translation and negotiation.
Cruz said on the Senate floor he was offering legislation to ensure that Aboutalebi would be prevented from entering the country.
"It is unconscionable that in the name of international diplomatic protocol the United States would be forced to host a foreign national who showed a brutal disregard of the status of diplomats when they were stationed in his country," Cruz said in a speech on the Senate floor. "This person is an acknowledged terrorist."
The U.S. has objected to Iran's selection of Aboutalebi, with State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf calling his potential nomination "extremely troubling." The AP reports the Obama administration stopped short of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the United States.