Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday that the United States had begun to communicate with Iran on the detention of American citizens, calling the incident a “complete and complete atrocity.”
In recent years, Iran has arrested dozens of dual citizens, including several Americans, mainly for espionage crimes. Human rights activists accused Tehran of trying to use detention to win concessions from other countries, but the accusation was rejected.
Sullivan told CBS̵
Sullivan said: “We have begun to communicate with Iranians on this issue.” “We will not accept the long-term proposition that they continue to detain Americans in unfair and illegal ways.”
He said that this issue represents a “humanitarian disaster.”
Sullivan added that Biden is “determined” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and diplomacy is the best way to do this.
The United States said last week that it was ready to reach a consensus with Iran on the 2015 agreement that the two countries would return to the Trump administration to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons while lifting most international sanctions.
Sullivan said: “Iran has not yet responded.”
The Iranian news website reported that any communication between Tehran and Washington regarding American citizens detained in Iran was conducted through the Swiss Embassy, which deals with American interests, and not through any direct contact.
An unnamed source told the website: “The Iranian government has not discussed American prisoners with Washington.” The website belongs to the Supreme National Security Council of Iran. “All news has been exchanged through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.”
The two countries have been divided on who should take the first step to restart the agreement. Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Sunday that the United States will not be able to rejoin the agreement until sanctions are lifted. Washington said that Tehran must first restore compliance.
Sullivan also told CBS that the United States will respond to the “solar wind” incident in weeks rather than months during the investigation of the “Russian cyberattack” last year. He said the response will include a mix of visible and invisible tools, not just sanctions.
Sullivan said: “We will ensure that Russia understands the boundaries of the United States in such activities.”