VOA Exclusive: Clinton Cites Trend Toward Military Takeover in Iran

Washington, D.C., October 26, 2011 — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Voice of America’s hit TV show “Parazit” Wednesday that Iran’s military is becoming increasingly involved in the Iranian economy.

In an exclusive interview at the State Department with “Parazit” host Kambiz Hosseini, Mrs. Clinton said, “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.”

Mrs. Clinton, who answered a series of audience questions, said the United States does not want a conflict with Iran but wants to persuade the regime to give up what she says is widely believed to be an attempt by Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

“Parazit,” a satirical Farsi language program broadcast to Iran by VOA’s Persian News Network, has become the most widely watched international program in Iran, despite Iranian efforts to jam the broadcasts.

In her interview, Mrs. Clinton said the United States is taking a variety of steps to circumvent what she termed the Tehran government’s “electronic curtain,” including by year’s end, the creation of an on-line “virtual embassy.”

“What we’re going to do, despite that fact we do not have diplomatic relations, is I’m going to announce the opening of a virtual embassy in Tehran. The website 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,” Clinton said.

The co-creators of “Parazit,” Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, have been called a Persian version of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” The “Parazit” co-creators were guests on Stewart’s show earlier this year, and they have been profiled in the Washington Post, on CNN, NPR, Fox News, and other programs. In addition to satellite broadcasts to Iran, Parazit is also widely followed on Facebook.

For more information contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington, kking@voanews.com, or visit the VOA website at www.voanews.com.

An online version of this release with links to the interview is available at www.insidevoa.com.