(Bloomberg) -- Iran won’t accept preconditions for the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal, including any related to the release of U.S.-Iranian dual nationals detained by the Islamic Republic, the foreign ministry said.

The comments were a direct response to a statement by U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, that Washington was unlikely to reach an agreement to revive the accord unless Tehran releases four U.S. citizens. 

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, told reporters Monday that the issue of prisoners with American nationality was part of a separate diplomatic track and urged the U.S. not to draw human rights issues directly into the nuclear negotiations. 

He added, however, that the two countries could clinch deals both on the nuclear accord and on the release of detainees “if the U.S. shows the will.” Khatibzadeh said that while diplomats in Vienna were “closer than ever” to reaching a deal to restore the nuclear accord, the U.S. was also causing “problems” for the talks by “not making decisions.” 

The landmark accord lifted some sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limits to its nuclear activities and its restoration could bring millions of Iranian barrels back to a tightly supplied global oil market. On Sunday, Malley told Reuters that while discussions for the release of U.S.-Iranian nationals were separate to the nuclear talks, their release was still a precondition for restoring the deal that Washington abandoned in 2018. 

In January 2016, Iran released four U.S.-Iranian nationals who had been imprisoned on national security charges, the same day that the 2015 nuclear deal officially came into effect. The Wall Street Journal later reported that the release coincided with Washington unfreezing tens of millions of dollars of Iranian funds. At the time, both the U.S. and Iran denied any link between the implementation of the nuclear deal and the prisoner release.

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