The latest brainchild of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the virtual U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Not actually an embassy at all (i.e. it offers no consular services whatsoever) the site is clearly at attempt to promote the United States and American democratic values to millions of Iranians.
The Iranian authorities were none too pleased about theÂ site (which is in English and Farsi) being up and managed to block it within a matter of hours of the site being launched.
The semi-official Fars news agency commented on the blocking of the U.S. website, saying, “A decisive reaction by Iranian authorities has neutralized another sly plot by the Americans. ”
“In accordance with the cybercrime law, access to this website is not possible,” read a notice to anyone inside Iran trying to visit iran.usembassy.gov.
The White House condemned the effort by Tehran to control “what the Iranian people see and hear,” and said it remained committed to engaging in dialogue with the Iranian people. “Through this action, the Iranian government has once again demonstrated its commitment to build an electronic curtain of surveillance and censorship around its people,” it said. The United
States has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since its embassy in Tehran was stormed in 1979 — the year of the Islamic Revolution — and its staff held hostage for 444 days. Washington has since sought to isolate Iran, leading international sanctions against nuclear activities it believes are aimed at making the atom bomb — a charge Tehran denies. The website was launched one week after British diplomats fled Iran after their embassy was stormed by radical youths, bringing Tehran’s relations with Europe to a new low.
All is not lost however. ManyÂ Iranians will still be able to access the site by using a virtual private network, or VPN — software that can subvert the government filter and is essential for the millions of Facebook users in the Islamic state. The State Department said it believed Iranians would still have access to the website through VPNs or other means.