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Iranian Parliament Backs Fingerprinting Americans on Entry
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The Iranian parliament, in a tit-for-tat measure, passed a bill yesterday obliging the government to fingerprint US citizens entering the Islamic Republic, state radio reported.
The proposal, backed by 135 votes to 26, also requires a complete security check on every American who enters Iran. The bill now goes to the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog body, before becoming law.

US journalists are already fingerprinted on arrival in Iran but it has not been law until now.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who regularly rails against US policies, had urged MPs not to pass the law even though Iranians were fingerprinted in the United States. He said Iran had nothing against Americans. But MPs ignored the plea.

"The government is obliged to fingerprint all American citizens, in order to reciprocate behavior of American officials towards Iranian citizens," said the bill, which was read out during a parliament session broadcast live on radio.

Iran has criticized Washington for fingerprinting Iranians upon arrival in the United States, part of a US policy toward citizens of states it accuses of supporting terrorism.

The United States says Iran is part of an "axis of evil" seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Washington is pressing the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Teheran, which says it needs atomic energy to generate electricity.

Echoing the president's comments in October, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told lawmakers to scrap the bill.

He said US President George W. Bush's Republican party's defeat during midterm elections earlier this month was proof its policy to fingerprint visiting Iranians had failed.

The Republicans lost control of the US Congress to Democrats during the elections.

The Bush administration "wanted to humiliate the Iranian nation, but American people during the US midterm elections opposed the administration's policy by their votes," Mottaki said.
But lawmaker Mahmoud Mohammadi disagreed.

"The president and his government were against this bill... but MPs wanted to preserve Iranian citizens' integrity by passing the bill," Mohammadi said.

"The United States will become more daring if we withdraw," said legislator Morteza Tammadon, who voted for the bill.

(China Daily November 20, 2006)

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