Biden Pays Ransom to Iran for Hostages

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President Biden has approved a deal with Iran to release held Americans in exchange for Iranian assets being unfrozen.

Iranian funds have been frozen all over the world in compliance with American sanctions targeting them. Whenever an American Administration negotiates with Iran, releasing funds is an important point that Iran insists on. NBC reports:

Five Americans imprisoned in Iran have been placed under house arrest in the first step of a planned prisoner exchange between Tehran and Washington that will include the release of roughly $6 billion in Iranian government assets blocked under U.S. sanctions, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.

If the proposed agreement goes through, Iran will be allowed to access the funds only to buy food, medicine or other humanitarian purposes, in accordance with existing U.S. sanctions against the country. Under the agreement, which could take weeks to carry out, Qatar’s central bank will oversee the funds, the sources said.

Iran is also pushing for the release of individuals held in American jails for evading sanctions. According to Fox News:

The alleged violations include the transfer of funds through Venezuela and sales of dual-use equipment that the U.S. alleges could be used in Iran’s military and nuclear programs. Iran has been enriching uranium and stockpiling it as part of its advancing nuclear program.

Iran also wants access to assets frozen abroad, particularly some $7 billion in Iranian assets tied up in South Korean banks. Already, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker amid the dispute and threatened further retaliation in August.

Iran and its allies have a long history of taking hostages to further their political agenda. The Iran-Contra Affair started in large part because Iranian-backed militias in Lebanon were kidnapping American officials. Whether Iran captures more American to receive ransoms remains to be seen.

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