The White House is warning of “new and serious consequences” for Iran if they do not immediately release all Americans being held hostage in that country.
The warning comes as the president is reorganizing his team that deals with Iran, giving his aides more say over Iran policy. Foreign Policy magazine is reporting that the president is unhappy with Secretary of State Tillerson and the State Department because he felt they didn’t give him the option of decertifying the Iran deal last week. The deal needs to be recertified every 90 days and many observers were surprised when the president, who had harshly criticized the deal during the campaign, ended up reluctantly certifying that Iran was in compliance.
Giving White House aides more sway over Iran policy along with the warning about hostages sends a clear signal that the fate of the nuclear deal could very well depend on the fate of American hostages.
A statement released by the White House Friday said the Trump administration is “redoubling” its efforts to bring home Americans “unjustly detained” abroad.
The statement mentioned three Americans specifically by name: Robert Levinson and Siamak and Baquer Namazi. Levinson has been held captive in Iran for over 10 years and The Namazis were taken during the Obama administration, according to the statement.
“The United States condemns hostage takers and nations that continue to take hostages and detain our citizens without just cause or due process. For nearly forty years, Iran has used detentions and hostage taking as a tool of state policy, a practice that continues to this day with the recent sentencing of Xiyue Wang to ten years in prison,” the statement read.
The statement urged that Iran is responsible for the care and well being of all US citizens it has in its custody. It added that Trump is willing to impose new consequence unless all “unjustly imprisoned’ American citizens are released by Iran.
Another American, Chinese-born Xiyue Wang, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran after being convicted of spying. Wang was arrested in Iran last summer while doing scholarly research in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation, a Princeton University statement said.
The White House announcement comes at the heels of a new administration policy — banningAmericans from visiting another country known for imprisoning Americans — North Korea.
PJ Media Washington editor Bridget Johnson has been following the hostage saga in Iran and has a list of all our countrymen held unjustly by the Iranians.
Obama wouldn’t have dared to be so blunt with the Iranians, fearing they would be offended and renege on the nuclear deal. I think it’s pretty clear by that statement — accusing Iran of using hostage taking as a “tool of state policy” — that Trump has had enough of Iranians taking Americans with impunity and will bring to bear whatever pressure he can to get them back.