The Biden administration signed off on the transfer of $6 billion in seized assets to Iran in exchange for five American prisoners, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Congress was notified Monday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a blanket waiver last week for banks to transfer $6 billion in seized Iranian assets from South Korea to Qutar, the country that will dole out the funds back to Iran, according to the AP. In addition to the $6 billion, the Biden administration will release five Iranian prisoners in exchange for five American prisoners currently held in Iran, in a deal that has been derided as a “ransom” payment by critics.
The exchange was first announced in early August, but only finalized after Blinken gave the go-ahead for banks to transfer the $6 billion in assets from South Korea to Qutar without fear of violating sanctions, according to the AP. The assets were a key part of the deal that will see the release of the American prisoners, four of whom were transferred from Iranian jail into house arrest last month.
Foreign policy experts and lawmakers warned that the deal will not ease tensions with Iran, and may actually embolden the country to act more aggressively against the United States. The deal is also unlikely to persuade Iran to reenter its nuclear de-escalation program, as a new series of reports from the U.N. said that “no progress” had been made with Tehran on key issues about its nuclear resources.
“Thinking that this will generate goodwill to get Iran to meaningfully curb or end its nuclear program is a fool’s errand, as Tehran has a habit of pocketing concessions and turning the dial back up, on both nuclear escalation and hostage-taking, when needed,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior researcher on Iranian security and political issues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said to the Daily Caller News Foundation in August.
“Biden is shamefully caving to Iran’s blackmail and extortion. Rewarding Iran for taking Americans hostage incentivizes more hostage-taking,” Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis said on Twitter in August. “Biden must stop obsessively pursuing disastrous deals that endanger our security. It is time to stand up to Iran with maximum pressure and roll back Iran’s malign influence.”
The White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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