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Did the Obama Admin. Make a Huge Oversight in Iran Deal?


"Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing to do for our security."

Saeed Abedini, seen with his family prior to his July 2012 capture. (Image source: Fox News)

As the Obama administration touts the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program, critics are unhappy over what they see as a huge oversight.

Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since last year on charges relating to his Christian faith, was completely left out the deal, CNN reports. He faces eight years in prison.

Saeed Abedini, seen with his family in this undated photo, has reportedly been sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison. (Image source: Fox News)

Abedini's family hoped the nuclear negotiations would include the American's potential release.

"There are also two other Americans detained in Iran, but the negotiations made no mention of anyone's release," the CNN report adds.

Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN that U.S. officials did discuss the release of the detained Americans.

"We raised two issues with the Iranians in our discussions with them," he said Monday. "One is the nuclear program; the other is Americans detained in Iran."

“President Obama raised it with President Rouhani when they spoke. We raised it at a working level on the margins of the P5+1 talks. That includes this pastor. It also includes other Americans. For instance, we’ve been concerned about, of course, the whereabouts of Bob Levinson, who’s been missing for a long time," he added.

It's not clear how much of an emphasis officials put on the release of the Americans or whether or not the Iranian regime was receptive to the idea.

Pushing back hard, President Barack Obama forcefully defended the temporary agreement to freeze Iran's disputed nuclear program on Monday, declaring that the United States "cannot close the door on diplomacy."

The president's remarks followed skepticism of the historic accord expressed by some U.S. allies abroad as well as by members of Congress at home, including fellow Democrats. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the fiercest opponents of the six-month deal, called it a "historic mistake" and announced he would be dispatching a top envoy to Washington to try to toughen the final agreement negotiators will soon begin hammering out.

Obama, without naming names, swiped at those who have questioned the wisdom of engaging with Iran.

"Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing to do for our security," he said during an event in San Francisco.

The weekend agreement between Iran and six world powers - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - is to temporarily halt parts of Tehran's disputed nuclear program and allow for more intrusive international monitoring. In exchange, Iran gains some modest relief from stiff economic sanctions and a pledge from Obama that no new penalties will be levied during the six months.

Despite the fanfare surrounding the agreement, administration officials say key technical details on the inspections and sanctions relief must still be worked out before it formally takes effect. Those talks will tackle the toughest issues that have long divided Iran and the West, including whether Tehran will be allowed to enrich uranium at a low level.

Iran insists it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and many nuclear analysts say a final deal will almost certainly leave Iran with some right to enrich. However, that's sure to spark more discord with Israel and many lawmakers who insist Tehran be stripped of all enrichment capabilities. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he expects the deal to be fully implemented by the end of January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story has been update to include comments from an Obama administration official.


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