U.S. opens online embassy for Iran
US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
December 6th, 2011
04:28 PM ET

U.S. opens online embassy for Iran

By CNN's Charley Keyes

The United States unveiled its first "virtual embassy" Tuesday, the latest attempt to reach over the Iranian regime and speak directly to the Iranian people.

The new website - at tehran.usembassy.gov - will provide visa applications, information on how Iranian students can study at American universities and a section speaking directly to the stressful relationship between the two countries.

And State Department officials say they are confident the website, which will be in both English and Farsi, can withstand efforts by the Iranian regime to knock it down.

"Unfortunately the leadership in Iran has a track record of opposing freedom of expression, both online and on the street," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said. "The regime has tried to impose an electronic curtain by disrupting cell phones and Internet and social media. This is one more effort to try to get around that curtain and get information directly to the Iranian people."

The new website came online at 6 a.m. Washington time Tuesday, after what State Department officials said was frantic work since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first suggested the idea in October. In its first hours there had been no attempt to disrupt the site. Clinton provided a video welcome message on the opening page of the virtual embassy.

"This initiative is designed to enhance our outreach to the Iranian people, notwithstanding the lack of diplomatic ties between our two governments," Sherman said.

"We want to support a more robust engagement between us and the people of Iran as we have in other countries where we have physical embassies."

The takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979 severed diplomatic relations between the two countries. And relations have become increasingly strained by U.S. concerns over Iran's nuclear program, a clamor in Congress for harsher sanctions against Iran's leaders and banks and, just this weekend, the apparent crash of a U.S. spy drone inside Iran.

The virtual embassy is the latest tool in State Department efforts to reach the youth of Iran, joining blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media.

And Sherman made glancing reference to usually secret State Department efforts to help people in repressive countries circumvent government crackdowns on computer communications.

"We have put resources into training people all around the world in ways to go around jamming. Many people already have private networks, virtual private networks that allow them to go through and around efforts to stop them from getting Internet access," she explained.

"We think we have the technical capability to get it back up even if it gets disrupted," she said at a briefing at the State Department, standing in front of screens showing off the new website. "And we are committed to doing everything we can to make sure the information gets through."

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Mr Irenaus Forward Obedient

    Repeated With Addition Exactly How Thy World Is Not Newly Public Opinion Have Ur Says Which Area Creator Of Thy Whole Universe Almighty Hold Global Investment Empty Plain Land Proppertise Pound Currency Acc Hold Against Desobdient Servant Sacrfice Ritual Religion Mark Of Beaste Antichrist 666 Agent Of Darkness Things Good For Them And Others Provide For Each Others Needs Greediness Jalousy Enviowness Can People Obuservation Pictsure Of Lucifer Instrument Of Destroyers Satan Forums Pictsure Adam Eve Adam No Futsure 12yrs Compeletly Wild Animals Devoured Eve Nebucadinezar Chimpazin Monkey Etc Forest Thick Desirt Swanp Hold At Where Eat Each Others Beliveth Refresh Them Copy Rights Thy Creator 2nd In To Development World Carying Bible Provission Accomodation Churches Rampered Forums Reduce Desise On Each Each Others Belive Allso Refresh Ritual Methoed Making Wealth Depend On How Many Effected Introduced Death Pains Sorrow Difficultise Etc Wasen,t Blf Darkness Moon Seasoning Appearance Permite By Thy Almighty

    May 25, 2016 at 8:54 am | Reply
  2. Cassandra Chu

    ... the smartest thing is to reach out and talk. Only Ron Paul and Huntsman (GOP candidates) talk about this. The rest of the war-mongering candidates are owned by the Israelis and their propaganda machine. True Christians seek peace before war. It's sick how many people the CIA have killed, wounded, displaced and otherwise made miserable.

    December 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  3. Jannai

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2. America invaded Iraq in 2003 and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and displaced 5,000,000+ Iraqi.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government and installed dictator.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. America's public debt will be 23 trillion by 2015.

    December 14, 2011 at 2:46 am | Reply
  4. rick

    everyone must take the comments of the "retired Floridian" with several grains of salt. A Muslim apologist spewing hatred against the US and Israel and passing himself off as an American. Maybe old, maybe retired but definitely not credible. sounds like he is writing from an old age residence in Teheran

    December 8, 2011 at 11:00 am | Reply
  5. Maybe

    We can have an online war with them too. COD Towel Heads. Winner take all?

    December 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  6. Tomba

    Wat the fuck us is trying to do,imposing sanctions on iran is the way u look the iranian people and hope for better lifestyle u fuking us goverment just mind ur bussines dont try to get fucked everywhere coz you hav been fucked up at iraq afghan and many countries...

    December 7, 2011 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • markus

      i feel so sorry for you because you have no idea what you're talking about, nor understand the reality of the conflicts you have stated. Im so happy you have no position of power, because you would fail as a leader.

      December 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  7. Mike84

    Lol this is like the embasy that was open in secound life

    December 7, 2011 at 4:17 am | Reply
  8. Gopherit

    Regarding U.S. government comments about possible Iranian attempts to shut down the "virtual embassy" the U.S. is launching in Iran, what would the U.S.authorities do if Iran were to do the same in the U.S.?

    December 7, 2011 at 12:55 am | Reply
    • svann

      It would likely be called propaganda and be blocked.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:18 am | Reply
    • Tony Baloney

      Obama, the muslim USA hater, would enbrace it! Obama, the disjointed one, would accept anything that the Iranians said and dismiss whatever the USA said. The N-word in cheep, would sell the USA out. We need to get rid of the N-word in office.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:12 am | Reply
      • GPerform

        Wow, I am baffeled by your intelligence...

        December 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  9. 20th Stryker Soldier

    Its time to kill them all !!!!! I want to introduce all muslims to my M-4. I want to skull fuck these bastards with 5.56 mm ammo to their brains !!!!!!! I hope my CO understands my plea for orders to attack !!!!!!!!! I await orders and am anxious to carry them out !!!!!! KILL THEM ALL !!!!!!!!

    December 6, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Reply
    • Larry L

      If you're really a Soldier we've failed you. Get some help – hate will consume you and your loved ones.

      If this is written as a joke you too should get some help – for far different reasons but to prevent the same outcome.

      December 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Reply
    • soleil

      Your comments are truly unfortunate and regretable. They should be removed immediately – as it is devoid of common sense and intelligence.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:29 am | Reply
    • Tony Baloney

      You sir, are why I sleep soundly at night. You sir, are a real hero. May your bullets be dipped in PIGS BLOOD and find their targets with GODS SPEED. You sir should be promoted in rank!

      December 7, 2011 at 9:15 am | Reply
    • GPerform

      What are you a PFC in the couch potato army? You're obviously not a soldier, put down the Call of Duty and Redbull and grow a brain.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  10. Ted Ward

    Wow! This is a big, game changing deal in the dipomatic world. Who knows where it will lead but it is a big new whole game!

    December 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  11. Jimh77

    WTF are the US thinking? Open the flood gates and just let the terrorists to enter freely. Visa apps? Study at American Universities? What about the kids in the Universities now with no job when they exit? Iranians get special treatment?

    December 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Reply
    • Yuko Morita

      Generally the Iranians coming to US universities don't like the way Iran is run

      December 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Reply
    • Larry L

      Read about the "Arab Spring" and envision what this sort of interaction could do to help the young people of Iran see a different path. Think about the outcomes from social media interaction in Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and to some extent – Saudi Arabia. This is not an embassy, it's a tool. Smart and cheap!

      December 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Reply
    • Flabbergasted

      Yes, the best way to convince the Muslim world that we are not their enemies is to deny visa applications to talented youths. Your way of thinking does little but help terrorist recruitment.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:02 am | Reply
    • Mike84

      i would be for exchangeing one of their youths who dislike Iran for you

      December 7, 2011 at 4:16 am | Reply
    • Kia Mohseni

      Mr. Jim, the dimwit good for nothing retard white trash, please do some research and try to open up your shut down booze infested brain and see the real truth.
      Iranians are running NASA, Iranians are running amazon, google, sun microsystems, oracle and many other businesses and government organizations for which US is taking credit. Without iranian's presence in states you would be shoveling manure right now.
      Ms. Clinton has the right vision and she is acting properly.
      Get a life.
      Fuckface.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:32 am | Reply
    • Putera

      I came here from reading your cotmnems at Matt Yglesias. I am interested in discussing solutions to despots and other injustice in the world. Philosophically, I am a pacificist: I believe that violence is a last resort, only used for self-defence and for the defence of others. Realistically, I acknowledge that we cannot solve all problems without some strong-arm tactics, but also that we cannot wage war against every despot at once. So, the first issue to decide is where to get involved. We have limited resources, even if we have much more than any other country. What criteria should be used to prioritize our interventions, whether diplomatic or military in nature? I suggest that priorities should be based on the number of people affected and the probability of successful intervention. Based on my own beliefs, I would emphasize successful diplomatic and economic interventions over military interventions in determining priorities, but I could accept a compromise on that issue.What say you?

      August 3, 2012 at 4:52 am | Reply
  12. your mom

    Is there going to be an online gift shop as well?

    December 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  13. Retired Floridian

    Unfortunately, the U.S. and Israel have been engaging in direct acts of war againsy Iran for several years now including assassination of university physics profs and nuclear scientists, sabotaging their research efforts with computer viruses, and-now-spying on their military and research facilities with drones which violate their sovereignity. Some jerkoff "virtual" embassy shell game to try to irritate Iran further is such transparently obvious PR and shows tht our State Dept. is-in fact-well staffed with military, DIA and CIA types masquerading as dip[lomats as they try to attack Iran. Luckily, Iran will soon have deployed nukes in 12-18 months and we and Israel have no chance at all of stopping the inevitability of that any more than we could stop North Korea, Pakistan, or India (and-of course-we provided nuke weapons and tech to Israel, thereby causing the possibility of it all ending in WWIII due to our sheet arrogance and utter stupidity as a nation).

    December 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • Rick

      First you offer no factual evidence to support your claims. Second, it is an act of War and a breech of international law and norms to seize a foreign Embassy and then hold its member captive for 444 days (let alone what happened to the British Embassy last week). Your typical response will attempt justify Iran's criminal behavior by the US support of the former Shah of Iran. However, this is to turn a blind eye to the continued type of political and religious suppression and abuse of human rights in Iran today, which is probably as equal or greater today, then the abuses under the Shah. It is a shame, because I'm pretty sure this is not the type of Iran, the average Iranian on the street would prefer to live in or envisioned after the fall of the Shah.

      December 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Reply
      • Kia Mohseni

        Monsior, please learn proper diction before leaving heavy handed comments. Then is used instead of Than. Go read up. I feel sorry for you when tyhe English say Americand speack American and NOT English.

        December 7, 2011 at 8:37 am |
      • jnpa

        Be careful, the "grammar police" are on duty today!

        December 7, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • kevin

      Ok so the Iranian students with the government backing storms our embassy and take hostages for 444 days and you say we are the one's creating act of war?

      December 6, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • Lone Voice

      I agree with you, Retired Floridian. I believe this is an attempt by our government to go to war with yet another boogeyman, leading us to a global war. If Obama approved of this, I lost all but the sliver of faith I have left in this government. All they want to do is to take advantage of other nations in order to gain a temporary political advantage, as if we have any influence in the region, and now the world. Congratulations, America! Our government has committed far too many atrocities without public knowledge for far too long. Our people are too buy being placated with material things rather than what matters... people. This world is sick and we are the virus. We need to fix this NOW.

      December 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Reply
      • rick

        success Floridian!: you managed to bring out all the paranoid nut cases that will spew their anti US, anti Israel, anti West bile and can see no difference between Iran that threatens to wipe out a neighbor and cant and the neighbor that has never threatened to wipe out anyone, but can.

        December 8, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • John

      Floridan is bang-on correct. Please don't give us the "there's no factual evidence" bul*sht. Just like you have no factual evidence they're building a bomb. But you know what, they should build one. It will provide actual balance of power in that region and stability against the local, single, nuclear-armed superpower that's already there. Ohhh wait...there's no factual evidence Israel has a bomb, right? Idiots

      December 7, 2011 at 1:20 am | Reply
      • Justin

        Way to prove your ignorance john.

        "But you know what, they should build one. It will provide actual balance of power in that region and stability against the local, single, nuclear-armed superpower that's already there"

        Apparantly someone knows NOTHING about the history of IRAN. You should do some homework.

        December 7, 2011 at 5:45 am |
      • rick

        are you and the purported "floridian" sharing a room in a mental hospital in Gaza?

        December 8, 2011 at 11:02 am |
      • rick

        how ironic. read your diatribe a second time and you called someone an idiot! you are a funny guy. If they are idiots and appear to be intellectually far above you, how should we describe your intellect and debating skills? any suggestions?

        December 8, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • rick

      Wow, the palestinian Mantra coming out of Ramallah under the guise of a retired Floridian. Pretty obvious you are not only not in or from florida but not an American. Seeking an attack on the US because of the jews, Zionists, israel, etc. is not exactly what an American hopes > as someone told you in in the article on he loss of he US drone: time to take your meds

      December 8, 2011 at 10:56 am | Reply
  14. on_line_

    Personnel of this embassy would never be held hostage. They can be hacked only.

    December 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  15. Sam A.

    Genius idea. Sure beats the hell out of bombing them into friendship

    December 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • Larry L

      Agree. Think "Arab Spring".

      December 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Reply
    • JC

      It's one more way to get a real, open message to the large percentage of Iranians who simply want to be citizens in a normal country doing normal business with the rest of normal society at large. Hope it helps.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:09 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.