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U.S. Official: International Opposition is to Iranian Nuclear Weapons Development, Not Peaceful Nuclear Energy


'No one is trying to deny people nuclear energy'

Washington, D.C., March 9, 2006 – Elizabeth Cheney, Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told the Voice of America Wednesday that the international community is opposed to Iranian attempts to obtain nuclear weapons, but she stressed that “no one is trying to deny people nuclear energy.”

During an exclusive appearance on the VOA Persian TV program Negahi Faratar (Looking Ahead), Cheney said, “I think the international community is absolutely unified and united on the issue of insuring that the current regime in Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons,” but went on to say that Iranian officials have “very clearly tried to encourage the Iranian population to somehow think that the international community is against the people of Iran or against their rights to obtain nuclear energy, and it’s simply not true.”

Asked about the newly proposed U.S. State Department office focused on Iran, Cheney noted that the U.S. has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since the U.S. embassy was taken over in 1979 by the regime of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. She said the main purpose of the proposed office would be “to build a cadre of new experts who are studying the language, studying the history, and following events inside of Iran.” She added: “I think that we share a tremendous affection for the Iranian people and I think that it is very important that our two cultures and civilizations learn more about each other. So I hope that, both through the money that we have asked Congress for as well as our new offices and resources at the State Department, that we will be able to build up these relations again.”

Negahi Faratar is a monthly 60-minute television program focusing on human rights and the democratic movement in Iran. The show is broadcast via satellite. VOA also broadcasts several other Persian language TV programs to Iran: Khabarha va Nazarha (News and Views), a daily one-hour television news show; Mizegerdi ba Shoma (Roundtable With You), a weekly 90-minute discussion show; and Fasle Digar (Next Chapter), a weekly 30-minute youth newsmagazine show.

VOA's television shows complement VOA Persian's daily radio broadcasts and Radio Farda, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, youth-oriented radio program that is a joint project of VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The VOA Persian Service Internet site is at www.VOANews.com/Persian.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.

For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959, or by e-mail at publicaffairs@voa.gov.

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