The Biden administration announced on Monday that they have agreed to a deal with Iran to swap prisoners and in exchange release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds.
In the deal, Iran will release five American citizens detained in Iran and the U.S. will release five Iranian citizens that are being held in the U.S.
Additionally, the deal will create a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of U.S. sanctions.
This comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the sanctions waivers last week, which was a month after U.S. and Iranian officials said an agreement in principle was in place.
However, Congress was not informed of the waiver decision until Monday, according to the notification obtained by The Associated Press.
The transfer of the $6 billion was the key part of the deal, which saw four of the five American detainees transferred from Iranian jails into house arrest last month.
Several European countries stayed away from the deal, due to multiple U.S. sanctions on foreign banks that engage in transactions aimed at benefiting Iran.
According to Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who focuses on Iranian security, he said that this new deal “will only feed Tehran’s appetite to keep taking hostages.”
“And as the case of the recently revealed Swedish diplomat illustrates, dual-nationals and foreign citizens are not the only targets. Tehran even intends to extort foreign government officials!” Taleblu said.
Experts of the deal anticipate that the detainees will be released sometime next week.
The American prisoners involved in the deal include Siamak Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison on internationally criticized spying charges. Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist sentenced to 10 years and Morad Tahbaz who was arrested in 2018 and was given a 10 year sentence and the fourth and fifth prisoners were not identified in the deal.
“To facilitate their release, the United States has committed to release Iranian nationals currently held in the United States and to permit the transfer of approximately $6 billion in restricted Iranian funds held in (South Korea) to restricted accounts in Qatar, where the funds will be available only for humanitarian trade,” Blinken wrote.
The sanctions waiver applies to banks and other financial institutions in South Korea, Germany, Ireland, Qatar and Switzerland.
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