A former US hostage in Iran is set to launch a hunger strike in Vienna on Wednesday to pressure US and Iranian officials to come to an agreement on the release of Iranian-Americans and other Westerners jailed by Tehran Can go He hopes the move will help break the months-long impasse in indirect prisoner talks between the two sides.
In an interview with VOA Persian on Tuesday, Barry Rosen said he would try to raise the prisoner issue in any meeting with US and Iranian diplomats in the Austrian capital. The two sides have separately engaged in indirect talks about reviving a 2015 agreement for Iran to disrupt its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from the United States and other world powers.
Rosen said he would hold his hunger strike in front of Vienna’s Palais Coburg hotel, the main site of talks about the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He said he intended to return to his hotel after arriving in Vienna at 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday by flight from New York.
Rosen, 77, was among 52 Americans taken hostage in Tehran by Islamists who captured the US embassy in 1979 after an Islamic revolution overthrew the US-backed monarchy.
His planned Vienna hunger strike would coincide with the 41st anniversary of Iran’s Islamist rulers releasing him and other Americans on January 20, 1980. It aims to raise awareness of the plight of at least a dozen Iranians with dual nationalities, including four Americans, who have been detained or barred from leaving the country in Iran.
The United States treats the detainees as hostages falsely accused of security crimes by Iran so that it can use them as bargaining chips to extract diplomatic concessions from the West. Iran insists any dual nationals it releases must be part of a prisoner swap, including US sanctions of Iranians accused of violating US sanctions against Iran and other crimes. Includes release.
Rosen said both the Biden administration and Iran should change their approach to indirect prisoner swap talks that began with the JCPOA talks in Vienna last April. Intermediaries of European powers, Russia and China have exchanged messages between the two sides.
For the United States, Rosen said a new approach would mean asking Iran to release the detainees before any agreement is reached to revive the JCPOA. “And (if) there is a (nuclear) deal, I want to make sure that Iran knows that if they take hostages again, whatever negotiations have been done is completely over,” he said. ”
Rosen said such an approach would honor President Biden’s pledge to prioritize the promotion of human rights in US foreign policy.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a VOA request for comment on whether any US officials would meet with Rosen in Vienna and what they called for the US to make Americans and other Westerners in Iran a prerequisite for the JCPOA. think. deal.
At a December briefing with reporters, a senior State Department official said, “There is no time … when we are in Vienna (in which) we will not try to convey to Iran our interest and the urgency of finding a solution.” that brings them all back home.”
The official also reiterated the US position that the Biden administration does not want to make the release of detainees a condition of the JCPOA deal. “We are of the view that the hostages should be released no matter what, and we will continue to press for whether the JCPOA is ongoing or not,” the official said.
A spokesman for the government of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who stepped down in August, said last month that Tehran was ready to exchange prisoners with the United States as a humanitarian gesture, provided that Such swaps could include the release of Iranians detained in the US and in unspecified other countries “at the behest of the US.”
Barbara Slavin, an Iran analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council and an advocate for reviving the JCPOA, told the VOA that she sympathizes with Rosen, but does not believe the United States should impose any pressure on Iran to release Western dual nationals. for JCPOA deal.
“Nuclear talks are tough enough. Also, Iran should release these people whether the Vienna talks are successful or not,” she wrote in a message on Tuesday.
In his VOA interview, Rosen said that he would also try to pressure Iranian negotiators in Vienna to change their approach to a prisoner swap in Iran’s cultural tradition of being hospitable to guests and visitors. egg on. “The Iranians know how important it is to think about the connectivity between them and other people in the world,” Rosen said. “It is a culture that is more than 2,500 years old. But under this regime Iran is behaving as if it is a land of wild animals. Iranian leaders should be ashamed of themselves.”
Rosen said he had not heard from any Iranian official about whether they would accept their request to meet him.
Slavin said he believes the best way to persuade Iran to change course is to show that it hurts itself by fearing dual citizens may not be able to leave the country. “Iran will never get close to its potential, while it continues to isolate most of its diaspora and remain isolated from the US,” she said.
This article originated in the Persian service of the VOA. Click here for the original Persian version of the story. Some information in this report has been received from Reuters.