Breakthrough Deal: Five Imprisoned Americans Finally Freed from Iran in Exchange for $6 Billion Oil Revenue Unfreeze
The release of five Americans imprisoned in Iran after two years of negotiations has been met with criticism and praise. The US agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue and dismiss federal charges against five Iranians in exchange for their release. The Biden administration hopes this deal will deescalate tensions with Iran.
Five Americans who had been imprisoned in Iran for years were finally allowed to leave the country on Monday after two years of negotiations. The US agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue and dismiss federal charges against five Iranians in exchange for the release of the Americans. The announcement came just as President Joe Biden and President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran were set to attend the UN General Assembly meeting. Three of the Americans declined to return to Iran, while the other two were flown to Doha for a Cold War-style exchange with two of the five Iranian nationals involved in the deal.
The deal has been met with criticism from Republicans who accuse Biden of financing Iran's terrorist activities. However, Biden's top aides have stated that financial sanctions and strict monitoring will prevent Iran from misusing the funds. Nevertheless, they acknowledge that the deal could potentially free up Iranian money that is already being used for humanitarian purposes. The release of the Americans comes as part of the Biden administration's efforts to deescalate tensions with Iran. These tensions had escalated in the years following former President Donald Trump's abandonment of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Under that agreement, Iran's nuclear program was limited in exchange for sanctions relief. The American prisoners, Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz, and two others who have remained unnamed at their families' request, had been jailed on unsubstantiated charges of spying. They had recently been under house arrest in Iran while the $6 billion transfer process was completed. The release of the Americans has been seen by some critics as an attempt by Iran to divert attention from the anniversary of the uprising in the country.
Hundreds of people, including at least 44 minors, were killed during a government crackdown on the protests. In the weeks leading up to the release, Iran had arrested dozens of dissidents and activists in an effort to prevent further protests. Despite the criticism, the Biden administration believes that the agreement with Iran was the only way to secure the release of the Americans. The US officials involved in the negotiations have expressed their gratitude to the governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland, and South Korea for their efforts in achieving this outcome. As the released Americans prepare to return to the US, the Biden administration has pledged to continue working towards the release of other wrongfully detained individuals around the world, including in Russia, Venezuela, and Syria.