U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press conference on February 4, 2021 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON – White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the United States has begun talking to Iran about detained Americans.
“We have started to communicate with the Iranians on this issue, yes. And we will continue to do so in the future,” said Sullivan of the five known Americans imprisoned.
“Our strong message to the Iranians will be that we will not accept a long-term proposal where they continue to hold the Americans unfair and illegal,” he told CBS on its Face the Nation program, adding, “It will its a major priority of this administration to get these Americans home safely. “
When asked about an update on the Washington-Tehran nuclear talks, Sullivan said “the ball is in their field”.
Sullivan said President Joe Biden continued to intend to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and believes the best way to do so is through “diplomacy with clear eyes.”
“He is ready to come to the table to speak to the Iranians about how we can get back strict restrictions on their nuclear program. This offer remains because we believe diplomacy is the best way to do it. Iran hasn’t responded yet, “said Sullivan.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated after former President Donald Trump stepped down from the landmark nuclear deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani takes a break while speaking during a press conference in Tehran, Iran on Monday, October 14, 2019.
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The 2015 joint comprehensive action plan brokered by the Obama administration lifted sanctions against Iran, which paralyzed its economy and cut its oil exports roughly in half. In return for the sanctions easing, Iran accepted limits on its nuclear program until the terms expire in 2025.
The US and its European allies believe Iran has ambitions to develop an atomic bomb. Tehran has denied this claim.
Trump pulled the United States out of the JCPOA in 2018, calling it “the worst deal ever”.
After Washington withdrew from the landmark nuclear deal, other signatories to the pact – France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia and China – tried to keep the deal alive.
Tehran has refused to negotiate as long as the US sanctions remain in place.