The U.S. can continue nuclear talks with Iran even as Washington pushes back on Tehran's crackdown on massive protests in the Middle Eastern country, a top White House official said Sunday.
"The fact that we are in negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program is in no way impacting our willingness and our vehemence in speaking out about what is happening on the streets of Iran," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS' "Face the Nation."
Last week, President Biden voiced solidarity with Iranian protesters who have taken to the streets since a 22-year-old woman died after being arrested for wearing her hijab too loosely. At least 11 people have died during the unrest.
Sullivan noted the U.S. has sanctioned members of the notorious "morality police" responsible for enforcing Iran's religious laws and has "taken steps to make it easier for Iranians to be able to get access to the internet and access to communications technologies."
But the U.S. will continue to seek a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program, he said. After former President Donald Trump killed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, the Biden administration has offered to lift punishing sanctions on the country if it stops trying to develop nukes.
"We're talking about diplomacy to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon. If we can succeed in that effort - and we are determined to succeed in that effort - the world America and our allies will be safer," Sullivan said. "And that will not stop us in any way from pushing back and speaking out on Iran's brutal repression of its citizens and its women. We can and will do both."
Sullivan also talked Russia on Sunday.
"We have communicated directly, privately, at very high levels to the Kremlin, that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the United States and our allies will respond decisively," he said.
With News Wire Services