The White House said on Wednesday that the US would continue negotiations with Iran to revive the nuclear deal despite an alleged Iranian plot to kidnap a Brooklyn-based journalist, an allegation Tehran denies.
The US Justice Department unsealed indictments against four Iranian nationals for the alleged plot on Tuesday, but Iran said allegations are “baseless and ridiculous.”
“Making such an imaginary story is not unlikely by the US. Its entire short history is full of assassination, kidnapping and sabotage in other countries,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in response to the DOJ charges. The US tacitly endorses Israeli covert activity in Iran, which in recent years has included an assassination of an Iranian scientist and multiple explosions at nuclear facilities.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration has “never assessed Iran to be a good actor in the world” but insisted the US will still pursue nuclear talks. “At the same time, we still see it, we will continue to pursue those talks, pursue the diplomatic path forward,” she said.
The US and Iran concluded the sixth round of JCPOA talks on June 20th. A report from Reuters on Wednesday said Iran wants to wait until after Ebrahim Raisi replaces Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in August to start the next round.
Up to this point, the Biden administration has refused to lift all Trump-era sanctions, forcing Iran to negotiate limited sanctions relief, which is a major concession. Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif submitted a report on the talks to parliament that said the US has agreed to lift most major sanctions. But Rouhani’s government has made similar claims before that were denied by the Biden administration.