Iran passes law requiring American visitors to be fingerprinted

Saturday, December 2nd 2006, 6:24 pm

By: News On 6

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Iran has enacted a law requiring American citizens visiting the country to be fingerprinted upon arrival, an official said Saturday.

Conservatives drafted the law in retaliation for the U.S. requirement that Iranian visitors be fingerprinted. The U.S. measure, which also applies to nationals of other countries, was implemented after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

A spokesman for the Guardian Council, an Iranian constitutional watchdog that must review all bills before they become law, announced its approval of the legislation Saturday, the official Iranian News Agency reported.

Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said the government now ``is required to inspect and fingerprint all American nationals at entry ports and visa issuance centers in consistency with the U.S. behavior.''

The council approved the law earlier this week, he said. Iran's parliament passed the bill November 19th.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opposed the bill, saying in October: ``We do not have a problem with American people. We oppose only the U.S. government's bullying and arrogance,'' according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The power to cancel the law lies with parliament and the Guardian Council, which would have to pass new legislation annulling the measure.

The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since militant Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held the staff hostage for more than a year.

The atmosphere between the two countries improved marginally under former President Mohammad Khatami, who encouraged athletic and cultural exchanges.

But it deteriorated after the September 11th attacks when President Bush declared that Iran belonged to an ``axis of evil'' with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

Since taking office last year, Ahmadinejad has widened the gap with Washington by taking a hard-line on Iran's nuclear program and calling for Israel's destruction.

The U.S. and some of its allies allege Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its program is peaceful, with the sole goal of generating electricity.

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