Top US Negotiator Demands Iran’s Release of Prisoners

The United States is unlikely to revive the 2015 nuclear weapons treaty with Iran if Iran does not release four American citizens detained in Tehran. That is what senior US negotiator Robert Malley told the Reuters news agency.


The four US detainees are basically a different issue from the nuclear weapons treaty, Malley says, “but it’s hard for us to imagine reopening nuclear weapons talks as long as four innocent Americans are held hostage by Iran.”

The US is holding indirect talks about the nuclear weapons treaty and, apart from that, indirect talks about the release of American prisoners. It is the first time that Malley has so emphatically linked the release of the Americans to the indirect consultations about the nuclear weapons treaty.

Critics accuse Iran of imprisoning foreigners in order to use them as hostages in international negotiations. Iran denies doing so. The country will also not agree to Malley’s demand. Iran’s foreign ministry said Monday it would not agree to the release of the American detainees as a condition of further negotiations.

Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Iran’s nuclear activities were curtailed in exchange for easing international sanctions. However, since the Americans unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under the leadership of President Donald Trump, Iran has no longer adhered to the agreements.

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