Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser, said Sunday the U.S. had started to speak with Iran over the nation’s detention of U.S. citizens, calling the matter a ‘complete and utter outrage.’
Including several Americans, Iran arrested dozens of dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Rights activists accuse the state of trying to use the detentions to win concessions from other nations, though Tehran dismisses the charge.
Sullivan said that the ball is in their court when asked for an update on the nuclear talks between Tehran and Washington.
He told CBS on its ‘Face the Nation’ program that their strong message to the Iranians will be that they will not accept a long-term proposition where they continue to hold U.S. people unjustly and unlawfully. Sullivan added that it was a significant priority of Biden’s management to get those Americans ‘safely back home.’
The tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated following former President Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal.
Sullivan said of the five known detained Americans that they have started to communicate with the Iranians on this issue. Moreover, they will continue to do so as they go forward.
Moreover, he added that the issue represented a ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’
Following Sullivan’s comments, an Iranian news website affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council cited a source saying that any talks between Washington and Tehran about detained American citizens had been carried out via the Swiss embassy handles U.S. interests rather than through any direct contact.
Both countries have been at odds, who to take the first step to revive the Deal
The White House National Security Advisor added that Joe Biden was strongminded to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear warhead and that diplomacy was the best way to do that.
The United States said last week it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to a 2015 accord abandoned by the Trump administration that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons while lifting most international sanctions.
Sullivan said that Iran hasn’t responded until now.
Both nations have been at odds over who should take the first step to revive the pact. Earlier on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry reiterated that the United States would not be able to rejoin the nuclear deal before it lifts sanctions. Washington D.C. says Tehran must first return to compliance.
Mr. Sullivan also told CBS that as the U.S. investigates the suspected Russian cyberattack, the U.S. will respond to the SolarWinds hack that hit several government agencies last year in weeks, not months.
He said the response would include a mix of tools seen and unseen, and it will not merely consist of sanctions.
Sullivan said that they would ensure that USSR understands where America draws the line on this kind of activity.
In 2018, Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA, calling it the worst agreement ever.
Tehran has refused to negotiate while the United States sanctions remain in place.