US Opens ‘Virtual Embassy’ for Iran

Posted December 6th, 2011 at 7:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States on Tuesday officially opened an interactive online “Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran,” aimed at bridging the gap between Iranians and Americans that has existed since diplomatic relations were severed more than 30 years ago.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the unprecedented Internet project “a vehicle for the two peoples to communicate without fear.” In her welcome video posted on the site, Clinton also noted that thanks to the new technologies like the web site, Iranians can find information about opportunities to study in America, or to obtain visas to come and visit.

State Department officials said the virtual embassy should reduce the difficulty Iranians encounter in arranging travel to the United States. The site also streamlines procedures for Iranians seeking to study at U.S. colleges and universities with the aim of increasing the number of Iranian students in the country.

Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the online project is an effort to skirt the “electronic curtain” erected by Tehran to block Internet links between Iranians and the outside world.

Secretary Clinton announced the plans for the web site in an interview with VOA Persian service in late October. Iran responded caustically to her initial announcement, with parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani saying the project will not succeed.

But U.S. officials expressed confidence that the new project will be popular, saying a State Department Persian Facebook page created earlier this year has already had about one million “hits.”

The virtual embassy includes information on U.S. policy on Iran and challenges — what one U.S. official termed — “pervasive myths,” such as that U.S. policy aims to overthrow Iran's government or that U.S. nuclear sanctions are designed to punish the Iranian people.

Iranians are invited to contribute comments and criticism through links to State Department Twitter and Facebook accounts provided on the new web site.

The U.S. virtual embassy website can be viewed in English at “” or “” and in Persian at “”