The Biden administration is reportedly finalizing a deal with Iran that would see $6 billion in currently-frozen assets turned over to Tehran. In addition, the White House will likely release a number of Iranian nationals as part of a deal that would return five Americans in what is already attracting criticism from Republicans.
The United States froze the funds as part of sanctions against Iran, one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism in the world.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations announced the reported deal, stating that the frozen assets would be transferred from holding in South Korea and sent to Qatar.
Qatar currently holds relatively strong relations with both Washington and Tehran.
The five Americans held in the Islamic Republic are being held on espionage charges that the United States believes are dubious.
One of the prisoners, Siamak Namazi, wrote a New York Times op-ed in 2022 which stated that “the Biden administration’s approach to rescuing Americans in distress in Iran has failed spectacularly so far.”
All five of the Americans were detained as of Friday but were moved to house arrest.
National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the “negotiations for their eventual release remain ongoing and are delicate.”
She added that the Biden administration had “little in the way of details to provide about the state of their house arrests or about our efforts to secure their freedom.”
The White House immediately denied assertions that the deal between Washington and Tehran was a ransom.
Releasing $6 billion to the butchers in Tehran just so American hostages can go to a different type of prison is a terrible deal. Iran shouldn't profit from holding Americans hostage.
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) August 10, 2023
NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN Thursday that the reported agreement allowed for the $6 billion in one account to be “more accessible to the Iranians.”
Kirby said that the funds would be used for “humanitarian purposes” and that American taxpayer dollars are not involved.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said that “Biden has authorized the largest ransom payment in American history to the mullahs in Tehran.”
The terms of the deal will reportedly release the Americans after the funds frozen as part of Trump administration sanctions against Iran are released, which is expected to take about four to six weeks.