Iran's official news agency says Tehran authorities have taken down anti-American billboards just days after ultra-conservatives erected them in an apparent effort to discredit U.S. negotiators in talks with the new Iranian leadership.
The IRNA news agency ((in a report published Saturday)) quoted a Tehran municipality spokesman as saying the posters were removed from major thoroughfares around the city. Hadi Ayazi said an Iranian cultural institute had installed them in recent days without permission.
Iranian media said the billboards had been set up by the Owj Cultural Organization. They carried a variety of anti-American images accompanied by the words "American Honesty" in Farsi.
One image depicted a negotiating table with an American wearing a suit jacket above the table surface but holding a gun and wearing military fatigues beneath. In another image, the American is shown with an attack dog at his side, facing an Iranian negotiator.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in August, has made several gestures toward the United States in the hope of easing Western sanctions imposed on Iran for pursuing a controversial nuclear program.
His gestures have drawn deep skepticism from Iranian ultra-conservatives who view the United States as an arch-enemy and oppose making concessions on Iran's nuclear activities. Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies.
Ultraconservative daily newspaper Keyhan published an editorial on Sunday, criticizing the removal of the anti-American billboards.
Iran's Tasnim news agency, a mouthpiece of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, also published criticism of the move from an ultraconservative Tehran city councilor. It quoted Mojtaba Shakeri as saying the Iranian people should continue to chant the slogan "Death to America" to protect Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.