Iran To Profit $6B From Prisoner Swap With U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi | Image by lev radin/Shutterstock

The Biden administration is putting the final touches on a deal with Iran that will see the release of five American citizens held by the Islamic Republic in a swap for five Iranians held by the U.S. and the transfer of $6 billion of sanctioned funds.

The administration engaged Iran in indirect talks back in June in an attempt to secure the release of Americans held by Tehran. In exchange, the U.S. has agreed to unfreeze $2.7 billion in frozen energy payments from Iraq to Iran and a further $6 billion of Iranian money held by South Korea, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

In preparation for the deal, the five Americans being held by Iran were transferred from jail to house arrest in August, per The Associated Press. They include Siamak Namazi, detained in 2015 and convicted of spying, and two other Americans serving 10-year prison sentences: Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz, who is also British. The other two prisoners have not been named by officials.

The prisoner swap is expected to happen next week, per the AP.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on a sanctions waiver to allow international banks to process the transfer of the $6 billion from South Korea to Qatar, but Congress was not notified about the waiver until Monday, according to the AP.

The fact that the White House chose the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks to announce the consummation of the deal with a country that the U.S. has repeatedly accused of supporting terrorism caused anger amongst Republicans.

“First Joe Biden used 9/11 as an excuse to flee Afghanistan. Now he desecrates this day by paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Shameful,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote on X.

“On the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the Biden Administration announces they’re shelling out prisoners and cash to Iran. You can’t make this stuff up!” posted Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concerns that such a deal could result in Americans being taken hostage, reported The Hill.

“This is an example of why we have to go ahead and make it very clear to Americans that they cannot travel to certain places in the world where they are likely to ultimately become a hostage. Until we do that we will constantly be in a set of circumstances” in which the U.S. may be compelled to negotiate for the release of its citizens, Menendez said, per The Hill.

However, Ray Takeyh wrote in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations that the prisoner swap may be a precursor to a new deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.

“The Iranian foreign minister recently suggested that the two sides are working on the text of amendments to the original Iran deal, but thus far, no confirmation of such efforts has been given,” Takeyh said, referring to comments by Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The timing of the deal’s announcement comes days before September’s UN General Assembly, leading to some speculation that the prisoner swap is intended to coincide with the meeting in New York, per Amwaj.media.

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