WASHINGTON - The United States has
concluded that Iran's president-elect was a leader of the movement behind the
1979 hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran but is unsure whether he took
part, the White House said Thursday.
"In terms of the president, we've looked into the allegations that were
made about his involvement in the 1979 hostage crisis. We know he was a
leader of the student movement that organized the attack on the embassy and
the taking of American hostages," said White House spokesman Scott
"However, we are still looking into whether or not he was actually one
of the hostage-takers. That's something we continue to look into," the
McClellan added: "I don't think it's a surprise to anyone, given the
nature of the regime in Iran, that he might have been involved in this kind
On November 4, 1979, following Iran's Islamic revolution, a group of radical
student followers of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini stormed the US
embassy in Tehran and held 52 of its staff hostage for 444 days.
The White House and the US State Department said almost exactly one month ago
that they were looking into allegations from five survivors of the siege that
Ahmadinejad, a religious hardliner, was an active participant.
Iranian veterans of the standoff have flatly denied that Ahmadinejad was
Ahmadinejad trounced moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the second
round run-off of last month's presidential vote to record the greatest upset
in Iranian political history. Washington deemed the elections illegitimate.
The hostage crisis led to the suspension of diplomatic ties between
Washington and Tehran, which remain severed to this day. Ahmadinejad has
dampened any hopes of a resumption of links, saying Iran "does not
need" the United States.
McClellan also renewed a US warning to Tehran against pursuing nuclear
"Iran made some commitments to suspend their uranium enrichment and
reprocessing activities. We expect them to abide by that commitment,"
"If they were to begin those activities again, they would be violating
the commitment they made under the Paris agreement with the Europeans. And we
have made it very clear that Iran has a history of hiding their nuclear
activities from the international community.
"That's why it's so important that you have some confidence-building
measures or objective guarantees in place, so that they show the
international community that their nuclear program is not being used to
develop weapons," he said.
McClellan added:"If Iran is going to violate their agreements, then we
would obviously be looking at discussing with the Europeans, who have also
committed to doing so, looking at going to the (UN) Security Council."