REPORTING FROM TEHRAN -- All they wanted to do was ask.
An Iranian news website offered to allow readers to pose questions to U.S. State Department spokesman Alan Eyre, who speaks fluent Persian.
The website Alef.ir said Tuesday that Eyre would respond to questions. It would be the first such interchange between Eyre and an Iranian news website, the Associated Press reported.
Dozens of Iranians jumped at the chance, sending in questions about things varying from Western objections to the Iranian nuclear program to U.S. support for Israel.
The idea didn’t sit well with the Iranian culture ministry, which argued that there was no justification for the website to allow a U.S. “intelligence officer” to respond to questions from Iranians. After the ministry made its objections known in a Wednesday statement, Alef.ir removed the offer to question Eyre.
Iran and the U.S. have no diplomatic ties and have been at odds over the Iranian nuclear program, spurring the U.S. to move ahead with tough new sanctions on Iranian oil. Iran says its program is exclusively for peaceful purposes; Western officials suspect that it is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Iranians wanted to ask about Western objections to Iran's nuclear program, which includes the Bushehr nuclear plant, above. Credit: Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.