The Islamic Republic is using Imprisoned Dual Citizens as Bargaining Chips
As talks continue to revive the nuclear deal with Iran in Vienna, the United States Special Representative for Iran, Robert Malley, said that although the issue of the four U.S. citizens held in prison in Iran is separate from the nuclear negotiations; however, the United States is unlikely to sign an agreement with Iran without Tehran releasing Iranian-Americans that are being held.
Malley told Reuters on the issues of dual national being held in prison in Iran and the fate of the Vienna talks:
“They’re separate and we’re pursuing both of them. But I will say it is very hard for us to imagine getting back into the nuclear deal while four innocent Americans are being held hostage by Iran”.
Robert Malley mentions four prisoners by name: Siamack Namazi, Bagher Namazi, Morad Tahabaz, and Emad Sharghi, and considers the release of these four as a precondition for the agreement. The number of imprisoned dual nationals in Iran is much higher than this. There are also Iranian-European citizens held in Iranian prisons. Even though European countries are also part of the talks in Vienna, it is unclear to what extent these imprisoned European nationals are included in the negotiations.
The request for the release of dual nationals being held in Iranian prisons are not part of the negotiations and their inclusion as a requirement cannot replace any discussions the world powers and international mechanisms could potentially have with the Islamic Republic over the situation of human rights in Iran. Western governments that are taking part in the ongoing negotiations with Iran, cannot claim that by raising the issue of imprisoned dual nationals, they have included the situation of human rights in the Vienna talks.