The US reaches a prisoner exchange deal with Iran and releases $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds

 

The US reaches a prisoner exchange deal with Iran and releases $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has paved the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran by granting blanket exemptions to international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar transfer without having to fear US sanctions. Additionally, as part of the agreement, the government agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the United States.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed the deal late last week, but Congress was not informed of the decision until Monday, according to the memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The waiver is likely to draw criticism of President Joe Biden from Republicans and others because the deal will boost Iran’s economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and allies in the Middle East.

The waiver means European, Middle Eastern and Asian banks will not run afoul of U.S. sanctions if they convert the money frozen in South Korea and transfer it to Qatar’s central bank, where it will be held for Iran to use to buy humanitarian goods becomes.

The transfer of the $6 billion was the crucial element of the prisoner release deal that led to four of the five American detainees from Iranian prisons being transferred to house arrest last month. The fifth prisoner was already under house arrest.

Due to numerous US sanctions against foreign banks that do business on behalf of Iran, several European countries resisted participating in the transfer. Blinken’s waiver is intended to allay her concerns about the threat of US sanctions.

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