(VIDEO) U.S opens 'virtual embassy' in Iran

UPDATE: Residents in Tehran say the virtual embassy has been blocked

After the recent closure of the British Embassy in Tehran following the protests by Iranian students believed to have links to the Basij, relations with the West and Iran have now reached an all time low. Despite continued denials about their controversial nuclear programme, Iran has continued to defy western pressure to come clean on it's nuclear ambitions. Faced with sanctions and continued isolation, the U.S.A has decided to have some sort of relations with Tehran, albeit a virtual one with their people. The Obama administration on Tuesday opened its “virtual embassy” in Tehran, and guess what - it’s still open.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in October that the State Department would be opening the virtual embassy, a source for Iranians to understand US policy.

Despite Iran banning foreign media outlets like the BBC and CNN, there have been fears the virtual embassy would be shut down, however, it appears to be accessible.

The virtual embassy is available in both English and Farsi, and is operating under three different URLs, including iran.usembassy.gov.

Of course the 'real' US embassy in Tehran has been shut since 1979, when it was taken over by students who held 52 embassy staff members hostage for 444 days, an event that has marred Iran-US relations for 30 years.

The virtual embassy statement declares that the site 'is not a formal diplomatic mission, nor does it represent or describe a real U.S. Embassy accredited to the Iranian Government. But, in the absence of direct contact, it can work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people'.

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