White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday the United States had begun communicating with Iran about the country’s detention of American citizens, calling the matter “utter outrage”.
Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, in recent years, mainly on charges of espionage. Human rights activists accuse the country of making concessions from other countries with the detentions, although Tehran dismisses the charges.
Sullivan told CBS News’ Face the Nation that getting these Americans “home safely” was a “major priority” of President Joe Biden’s administration.
“We have started communicating with the Iranians on this issue,” Sullivan said when asked if the government had started hostage negotiations with Iran.
“We will not accept a long-term proposal that continues to hold Americans unfairly and illegally,” he said, calling it a “humanitarian disaster.”
According to Sullivan’s remarks, an Iranian news website affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council of Iran quoted a source that all communications between Tehran and Washington about US citizens imprisoned are through the Swiss embassy, which is serving US interests, rather than through direct contact was made.
Sullivan added that Biden was determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that diplomacy was the best way to do it.
The United States said last week it was ready to speak with Iran about the return of both nations to a 2015 deal abandoned by the Trump administration to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons while most international sanctions are lifted .
“Iran has not yet responded,” said Sullivan.
The two countries divided over who should take the first step to revive the agreement. The Iranian State Department reiterated earlier Sunday that the United States will not be able to rejoin the nuclear pact before the sanctions are lifted. Washington says Tehran must return to compliance first.
Sullivan told CBS that the US will respond to the SolarWinds hack that hit several government agencies in “weeks, not months” last year as the US investigates the suspected Russian cyber attack.
He said the answer will be a mix of visible and invisible tools, and not just sanctions.
“We will make sure Russia understands where the United States draws the line for this type of activity,” Sullivan said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)