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Clinton Concerned Over Trend Toward Military Rule in Iran

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is becoming more involved in running the country and that Iran may be heading toward military dictatorship.

In an interview with VOA’s Persian News Network, PNN, Clinton said the United States plans an on-line embassy, and wants to circumvent what she termed Iran’s “electronic curtain.”

Secretary Clinton has expressed concern about a military dictatorship in Iran before. But her comments to VOA Wednesday were her most explicit on the issue thus far.

In an interview with the popular Persian News Network program Parazit, Clinton noted news reports that the Iranian leadership might eliminate the elected post of president. She said the Revolutionary Guards, an elite wing of the military, is “becoming more and more involved” in the country’s economy.

“The Quds force and other elements of the security establishment taking financial stakes or taking over certain economic enterprises - that’s part of what I mean about our seeing that there seems to be a moving toward a more military takeover in effect in Iran," she said.

Clinton said the United States is considering more sanctions to persuade Iran to end suspected efforts to build nuclear weapons. “The strongest sanctions were adopted by the United Nations when it became abundantly clear that the regime is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Everyone believes that the covert actions, the covert facilities, the misleading information, is part of an attempt by the regime to acquire nuclear weapons, which would be very de-stabilizing," she said.

But, she said, the U.S. is pursuing a two-track strategy of sanctions and diplomacy.

Her interview comes two weeks after the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards was implicated in a plot to assassinate the ambassador from Saudi Arabia in Washington.

The Secretary of State said the United States does not seek conflict with the Iranian government, but wants to support those in Iran seeking democratic reform.

Parazit, a satirical news show, primarily reaches younger Iranians through the Internet and satellite broadcasts.

Clinton said the U.S. is trying several ways to circumvent what she called Tehran’s “electronic curtain” including the creation of an on-line “virtual embassy” for Iran.

“What we are going to do despite the fact that we do not have diplomatic relations is I am going to announce the opening of a virtual embassy in Tehran. The Web site will be up and going at the end of the year. We’re going to continue to reach out particularly to students and encourage that you come back and study in the United States. And we’re going to look for other people-to-people exchanges," she said.

Clinton said the United States would like to see Iran’s government change and begin to support the human rights and aspirations of its people.

She said there are “reasons for regret on both sides” in the two countries’ troubled history over the past half-century and that the United States would like to “forge a new relationship.”

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