Iran considers exchanging prisoners with the United States as a humanitarian issue and has not tied it to the fate of the talks on the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday.
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Iran has negotiated the issue with the U.S. indirectly and outside the nuclear deal's framework. The possibility existed for a prisoner swap between Tehran and Washington, he noted, saying Iran's position on the issue was clear, but the U.S. showed inaction and failed to demonstrate any commitment in practice.
Kanaani stressed that Iranians have been imprisoned in the U.S. on "baseless charges of circumventing the sanctions." He added that the U.S. detention of the Iranian nationals under such charges is illegal and inhumane and further proves that Washington always turns a blind eye to humanitarian and ethical issues.
Iran expressed readiness for exchanging prisoners with the U.S., Kanaani said, emphasizing that the Iranian nationals' fate is important to Tehran. He gave the assurance that Iran will continue its efforts to this end, noting that the issue is not related to the nuclear talks and is an independent case.
On Thursday, Kazem Gharibabadi, the Iranian judiciary chief's deputy for international affairs and secretary of the country's High Council for Human Rights, slammed the U.S. for having arrested "tens of innocent Iranians" under the pretext of circumventing its "cruel and inhumane" sanctions, urging Washington to free "all guiltless" Iranian nationals immediately.
Iran signed the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in July 2015, agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions on the country. However, former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran, prompting the latter to drop some of its commitments under the pact.
The talks on the JCPOA's revival began in April 2021 in Vienna but were suspended in March. The latest round of the nuclear talks was held in Austria's capital Vienna in early August after a five-month hiatus. On Aug. 8, the EU put forward a "final text" of the draft decision on reviving the JCPOA.