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June 26, 2015 12:58 am

State Department Rejects Theory Iran Negotiations Delayed Unveiling of Human Rights Reports

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Assistant Secretary at the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski.

Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski.

The U.S. rejected reports that it had delayed the release of the 2014 State Department human rights reports for political reasons, such as ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

By law, the reports were meant to be released on February 25 of this year, but a series of delays kept that from happening, even after their release date was further postponed from April 20.

Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Tom Malinowski assured reporters on Wednesday that the delay in releasing the reports — the longest ever — happened because of persistent scheduling conflicts, adding that the State Department wanted both Malinowski and Secretary of State John Kerry to be present together for the unveiling of these reports.

He blamed the delay on Kerry’s hectic traveling schedule, and said that with each postponement it was “no big deal, will do this next week, and then next week.”

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The most recent delay, Malinowski said, was due to Kerry’s recent cycling injury in Switzerland.

“The result was a delay that was far longer than any of us wanted,” he said.

Malinowski was responding to reports that the U.S. wanted to shield countries such as Iran and Cuba, as the State Department engaged in high-profile and high-stakes negotiations with both.

A few weeks ago, Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican presidential candidate, said he was eager to see the section on Iran’s violations, whose “human rights record is inextricably intertwined with its nuclear ambitions.”

Middle East analyst Elliot Abrams was more specific: “The Obama administration does not wish to make public an honest report on human rights abuses in Iran before the nuclear deal is done,” he wrote.

Malinowski sought to put distance between the U.S.’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and the Islamic Republic’s abysmal human rights record.

“Engagement is not the same thing as endorsement,” he stated, adding that any sanctions lifted on Iran as part of the nuclear deal, meant to be finalized by June 30, would not include human rights sanctions. Those would “remain in place,” he said.

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