US State Department: Iran May Have Detained Another American, Possible Link To International Nuclear Debate?

Has the country of Iran secretly detained another American citizen?

Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Department of State is investigating recent reports that the Middle Eastern country has arrested a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent for unknown reasons.

“We’ve seen reports of the detention [in] Iran of a person reported to be a U.S. citizen,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby told Reuters, noting that he had no additional information. “I can tell you we are looking into that.”

Iran claims to have detained an unnamed American visitor, which Reuters noted is the latest in a “string of arrests of dual nationals,” but has offered no further comment as to the charges for which he is being held.

Per an Arabic-language report for the Fars news agency, an unnamed Iranian Judiciary spokesperson claims that the American was arrested in Gorgan, a city in northeastern Iran, and that the trial “may be held in Tehran, Iran’s capital city.

Although the official cause of Iran’s decision to detain the unnamed American is as of yet still unknown, the arrest is hardly without precedent.

This arrest, Reuters noted, is unrelated to the country’s recent decision to detain Robin Reza Shahini, a California man who was also reportedly visiting his mother in Gorgan, Iran, earlier this month. It is also unrelated to two other high-profile American arrests in Iran: the father and son pair of Baquer and Siamak Namazi. Although both men, like Shahini, are dual citizens of Iranian descent, the country does not recognize dual nationality.

For this reason, Reuters noted, Western embassies cannot visit Iran’s detained prisoners. In fact, dual citizens from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and France are known to be locked up in Iran for charges such as “espionage” or “collaborating with a hostile government.”

Many, Reuters noted, are used for prisoner exchanges and other political favors. Some observers believe that Iran is stockpiling arrests in order to politically strong-arm the U.S. and other countries as the country looks to build up its own nuclear capabilities.

Iran Nuclear Facility
Could mounting tensions over Iranian nuclear facilities, such as this one in Bushehr, Iran, be the real culprit for Americans being detained in the country? [Image by IIPA via Getty Images]

“We can go to better conditions compared with the past as quickly as possible,” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi recently told Fars

At the same time, Salehi stated his belief that Western officials have made confusing statements regarding the recent Iranian nuclear arms deals with various world powers.

Salehi reiterated his prior concern that “the other side violates the nuclear deal and this violation will be confirmed by the board [in Iran] which supervises [the implementation of] the nuclear arms deal.”

The news also follows Iran Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s threat last month to U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to carefully choose their words with regards to the countries’ 2015 arms agreement.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei Mural
This image shows a massive mural depicting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former Ayatollah Khomeini outside of Tehran. Khamenei's growing frustration with the U.S. and its western allies, many believe, could be the source of Iran's recent slew of arrests of American citizens. [Image by John Moore / Getty Images]

“[Iran did] not violate the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], but if the opposite party violates it and tears it apart as the U.S. presidential candidates state and threaten at present, then we will burn it,” said Khamenei, also per Fars.

The controversial leader continued, “The opposite party has defied its duty that has been removing the sanctions… The crude revenues and our money that are in other countries are not given back to us and the Americans have not fulfilled a major part of their undertakings, while we have done our part.”

Unfortunately for those American citizens who have been detained in Iran for various reasons, the situation does not appear to be improving in the immediate future.

[Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]