Anticipated Prisoner Exchange
This development comes as $6 billion in frozen funds are set to be released to Iran.
Confirmation of Prisoner Swap
An Iranian government spokesman has officially confirmed that the prisoner exchange involving five Americans and five Iranians is scheduled to take place on Monday.
This exchange follows months of negotiations mediated by Qatar.
Release of Frozen Funds
The $6 billion frozen in South Korea is expected to be in Iran’s possession by Monday, serving as the trigger for the prisoner exchange.
Under this carefully orchestrated deal, the five U.S. citizens, some with dual nationality, including one with British citizenship, are expected to depart Tehran and head to Qatar.
Fund Transfer Details
The release of the prisoners hinges on the confirmation of the money transfer from South Korea to Switzerland and then to Qatar.
Critics, particularly Republicans, have voiced concerns that this transfer amounts to a ransom payment for the U.S. citizens.
However, the White House has defended the agreement.
Resolution of a Long-standing Issue
This deal, initially made public on August 10, aims to resolve a significant point of contention between the United States and Iran.
Despite this development, both countries continue to grapple with various issues, including Iran’s nuclear ambitions, regional influence, U.S. sanctions, and military presence in the Gulf.
Efforts for Smooth Progress
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry is actively cooperating with all involved parties to ensure the smooth progression of this deal, seeking a comprehensive resolution.
The funds in question have been held in Korea’s Industrial Bank of Korea and Woori Bank since 2019 when a sanction waiver for oil imports expired.
Profiles of Detainees and Release
Among the U.S. dual citizens set to be released are Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharqi, and Morad Tahbaz. These individuals, detained for various reasons, were recently placed under house arrest.
Iranian officials have also named the five Iranians who will be released by the U.S.
Sanctions Waived for Fund Transfer
As part of the initial steps in this agreement, Washington waived sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar.
Doha has committed to overseeing how Iran utilizes these funds, ensuring they are directed towards non-sanctioned humanitarian goods.
Tensions in US-Iran Relations
The strained relationship between the United States and Iran dates back to Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in 2018.
Subsequent attempts to revive the nuclear agreement have faced numerous challenges, even as President Biden prepares for the 2024 U.S. election.