- By Colum LynchColum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. He previously wrote FP’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He was also the silver medal recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize for a three-part series documenting the U.N.’s systemic failure to protect civilians in Darfur, Sudan. Colum’s investigations have uncovered an American spy operation in Iraq, Russia’s monopoly of the $1 billion-a-year U.N. aircraft leasing market, and a Chinese diplomatic campaign to silence U.N. investigators scrutinizing Chinese arms deals in Africa. His deep digs into the U.N. bureaucracy have exposed sexual misconduct by U.N. blue helmets from Bosnia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and documented monumental dysfunction in the U.N. office charged with rooting out misconduct and corruption. He now devotes his reporting chops to documenting President Donald Trump’s efforts to reorder the international system. Born in Los Angeles, Colum received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. Before moving to FP, Colum reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. He has appeared frequently on national news programs, including the Lehrer NewsHour, as well as on MSNBC, NPR, and the BBC.
It’s not only that Iran refuses to recognize Israel.
The Islamic Republic’s official representatives are generally barred from speaking with Israeli diplomats or even uttering the word Israel, preferring to describe their regional enemy as "that Zionist entity."
But sometimes you just really need a place to sit.
Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, is pictured here at an IAEA meeting last month, seated at the Israeli delegation’s desk while conducting his official business.
Soltanieh is engaged in a discussion with a member of the delegation of Ireland, which presides over the IAEA’s nuclear safeguards committee, and a Cuban diplomat. He is accompanied by two other Iranian officials, according to a source who furnished Turtle Bay with this photograph.
It’s hard to imagine how the top Iranian diplomat, after serving more than six years as Tehran’s envoy to the atomic agency, wound up in the Israeli seat without an alarm bell going off in his head. You’d think there was a protocol office within the Iranian foreign mission responsible for avoiding such a diplomatic faux pas.
If not, maybe there will be from now on.
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