President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran officially launched a Spanish-language satellite TV channel, saying it would deal a blow to "dominance seekers" – remarks that were apparently directed at the United States and Europe. Iran's broadcasting company said Hispan TV, the first Spanish-language channel airing from the Middle East, will offer news, documentaries, and Iranian films 24 hours a day.
The launch is the Islamic Revolution's latest stepped-up effort to reach audiences throughout Latin America and Spain. This follows Ahmadinejad's tour of the region in January, which included stops in Cuba and visits to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador. Iran has signed economic and security agreements, for example, with Venezuela.
It also comes as Washington and Europe have imposed tougher sanctions on Tehran over its controversial nuclear program. The EU has week imposed an oil embargo against Iran and froze the assets of its central bank. In December 2011, the US said it would bar financial institutions from the US market which do business with Iran's central bank.
Iran's state TV said the channel, which had been on air on a trial basis since October with a 16-hour daily broadcast, will target millions of Spanish-speaking people all over the world. "The new channel will limit the ground for supremacy of dominance seekers," Ahmadinejad said during a Tehran ceremony marking the inauguration. "It will be a means for better ties between people and governments of Iran and Spanish-speaking nations."
In Tehran on February 1, representatives from a number of Latin America were on hand for the re-launching of Hispan TV. Ahmadinejad spoke via a video link to the audience and claimed that the venture would serve the cause of peace and understanding. The Iranian leader ended his speech in Spanish: "Viva la Paz! Viva el Pueblo! Viva América Latina!" Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview on Hispan TV, that "The enemies of mankind are trying to disseminate discord among peoples in order to dominate them. These channels serve to bring about understanding."
Iran broadcasts daily in five other foreign languages, including in English, through state-run Press TV, and in Arabic via al-Alam TV.
Suspicions continue to grow that Iran is pursuing the creation of nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies, insisting its atomic program is peaceful.