Three U.S. Republican lawmakers who are highly critical of Iran applied for visas to visit Tehran and observe this month's elections, inspect nuclear sites, and meet with the Revolutionary Guards.
U.S. House members Mike Pompeo, Lee Zeldin and Frank LoBiondo, even as they called Tehran a "fanatical"and "depraved" regime, hand-delivered their applications to the Iranian Interests Section in Washington, and wrote to 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 February 26 parliamentary elections, they said.
Tensions have risen over the elections, with President Hassan Rouhani criticizing moves by hard-liners to exclude thousands of reformist candidates.
The U.S. lawmakers said they are seeking to "inspect" sensitive nuclear sites at Parchin, Fordow, and Arak, and requested a briefing by the Revolutionary Guards over the January detention of 10 U.S. Navy sailors.
The lawmakers also sought "unmonitored" meetings with Americans still jailed in Iran, and a briefing on recent ballistic missile tests which have prompted U.S. sanctions.
No sitting member of Congress is believed to have travelled to Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.