FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 21, 2021
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | [email protected]
President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement as U.S. President Joe Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi address the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York today:
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“We applaud President Biden’s announcement that the U.S. will seek a major new global vaccination effort. We urge President Biden to put his words into action and to ensure citizens and refugees of the global South and within sanctioned countries like Iran have equitable access to vaccines and the necessary means to defeat the coronavirus. Immediate and overdue steps to suspend certain Iran sanctions and facilitate humanitarian trade must be part of this effort. It would be a grave mistake to hinge our fate in the global battle against COVID on separate disputes we have with other governments. The virus does not respect political borders and must not be weaponized against ordinary people.
“Unfortunately, as the urgent and overriding crisis of COVID-19 has continued to afflict Americans, Iranians and every population around the globe, geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to fester. The continuation of Trump-era sanctions and Iran’s steady nuclear progress into autumn is the result of bad choices from both the U.S. and Iran. The UN General Assembly should provide an important opportunity for the U.S., Iran and other parties to the agreement to put the wheels in motion for a resumption of the diplomatic negotiations that have stalled since Iran’s Presidential election in mid-June.
“Urgent diplomacy cannot afford to wait any longer. Iran should agree to engage the U.S. directly instead of continuing to rely solely on intermediaries, which has slowed and convoluted the diplomatic process. The U.S. should be prepared to better demonstrate how our return to the agreement can be executed in good faith so that Iran receives the benefit of its bargain this time around.
“Finally, Iran must release American dual nationals who continue to be unjustly detained – including Siamak and Baquer Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Sharghi. Just as humanitarian relief and the battle against COVID must not be leveraged for geopolitical gain, the practice of imprisoning and leveraging innocent lives to achieve political goals is abhorrent and must end.”