Aboutalebi was among the young Iranian revolutionaries who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 American hostages for 444 days.
Though the precise role he played still remains unclear – the diplomat denies playing a part in the initial siege, saying his role was minor later as a negotiator and translator – his link to the event has sparked bipartisan fury on Capitol Hill.
Senator Ted Cruz a Republican from Texas branded Aboutalebi a terrorist. Cruz on Monday won unanimous consent for legislation that would change the law in the U.S., giving the government power to block visas for people chosen as ambassadors who pose a risk to the national security.
As hardliners in Washington seized on the momentum created by Cruz, the White House on Tuesday weighed in with some of its own terse language.
Jay Carney the spokesman for the White House said the Obama administration had informed the leaders of Iran that their selection was not viable.
When Carney was asked to clarify if not viable meant Aboutalebi would not be give a U.S. visa, Carney would not directly answer the question.
He did say that the choice for Iran to be the UN envoy was not formally made as of yet.
The flap over Aboutalebi has become a hurdle in the Iran nuclear program negotiations taking place in Vienna, which face a deadline of July 20 to reach a comprehensive agreement.
Some on Capitol Hill see President Rouhani’s government having made a rare blunder, as they have been tactically perceptive since he took office.
However, one Middle East analysts said the problem would likely be one that is momentarily unpleasant, but will not kill the ongoing nuclear talks.
Aboutalebi has served as the ambassador from Iran to Australia, Italy, Belgium as well as the European Union and is currently the political bureau chief for Rouhani.
Iran appears not to want to change their mind calling Aboutalebi one of their most experienced and rational diplomats.