- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

An Iranian government official who recently entered the United States used a green card issued 13 years ago, and U.S. officials said yesterday that they were investigating whether he broke the law by accepting a position with a state sponsor of terrorism.

Mohammad Nahavandian, an economics and technology aide to Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, raised questions about his immigration status when he arrived in the United States two weeks ago, apparently to attend a conference.

Iranian officials are banned from traveling to the United States, unless they are granted a special visa, as was the case with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to the United Nations in September.

Mr. Nahavandian, 55, used his green card to enter the country, and the immigration officer who processed him upon arrival most likely did not know that he works for the Iranian government, one Bush administration official said.

It was not clear if this is Mr. Nahavandian’s first visit to the United States since assuming his current position several months ago.

As a private citizen, he was free to come and go as he pleased, and he apparently did so for years, another administration official said.

His green card was first issued in 1993 and renewed 10 years later, which means that he underwent all security checks introduced after September 11, 2001.

A third administration official said it did not appear that Mr. Nahavandian’s name was on any no-fly or other watch lists, so there was nothing illegal about his admittance into the country.

In 2003, the new green card was sent to an address in McLean about one mile away from CIA headquarters in Langley.

A Washington Times reporter visited the McLean address, 1907 Barbee St., last night and spoke with Ali Moshir, a 49-year-old Iranian-born naturalized U.S. citizen who said he was the house’s owner and a longtime friend of Mr. Nahavandian.

Mr. Moshir said that the two met while in graduate school at the George Washington University, and that Mr. Nahavandian uses Mr. Moshir’s address for correspondence and stays in the house when he visits the Washington area.

Mr. Moshir also said that Mr. Nahavandian spent a night at his friend’s home at the beginning of his current visit and then went to New York to attend a United Nations-related conference. Over dinner, they talked about various matters, but Mr. Nahavandian did not even mention that he had taken a government job in Tehran.

Mr. Moshir noted that Mr. Nahavandian, a computer specialist for Georgetown University Hospital, has traveled frequently to the United States, although he seemed to suggest that Mr. Nahavandian has been living in Iran for some time.

Green card holders must spent at least half of the year in the United States to maintain their legal status. It was still not clear if Mr. Nahavandian had done so, and the Department of Homeland Security declined to provide that information, saying only that it is “actively” looking into the case for the second day in a row.

The administration was trying to determine yesterday whether there are any requirements for a legal permanent resident like Mr. Nahavandian to give up his green card if he is employed by a foreign government.

The United States and Iran have been exchanging sharp rhetoric while the West has been trying to persuade Tehran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Nahavandian, whose visit was first reported by the Financial Times, is also president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Tehran and head of the National Center for Globalization Studies.

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