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Former Iran hostage on why release negotiations should have been part of nuclear deal




US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference on the nuclear deal with Iran on July 15, 2015 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference on the nuclear deal with Iran on July 15, 2015 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

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CBS’s Major Garrett provoked what’s become a much talked about rebuke from President Obama at yesterday’s news conference when he asked the President why he was “content” with the Iran nuclear deal while four Americans were still being held in Iran and why the negotiation for their release wasn’t tied into the nuclear deal.

Obama first responded, “The notion that I am ‘content’ as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails? Major, that’s nonsense. And you should know better. I’ve met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody’s ‘content.’”

In addressing the broader notion of why the hostages were not tied to the nuclear deal, he said, “suddenly Iran realizes, you know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals. Makes it much more difficult to walk away if Iran thinks a nuclear deal is dependent” upon them.

Did the President and his negotiators make the right call in keeping the hostages out of the nuclear negotiations? To what extent will this nuclear deal make future negotiations on the hostages more tenable?

Guests:

Dalia Dassa Kaye, Director, Center for Middle East Public Policy; Senior Political Scientist at RAND

Sarah Shourd, an American hiker who was held by Iranian authorities for 410 days before being released from detention in 2010; she wrote the piece in the Daily Beast today, "Negotiating with Iran for Hostages in a Nuclear Deal Isn’t ‘Nonsense.’ Trust Me. I Was One."

Edwin Smith, Leon Benwell Professor of Law, International Relations and Political Science, USC Gould School of Law