Iran says prisoner swap with U.S. is moving forward

DUBAI — A prisoner swap of 5 American and 5 Iranian detainees will happen Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman instructed reporters, in remarks carried by Iranian media.

Nasser Kanaani didn’t specify whether or not any of the detainees had left their respective international locations. Once the swap happens, the American detainees held in Iran are anticipated to journey by aircraft to Qatar, the place they may board a aircraft for the United States, in response to people acquainted with the negotiations.

“Two of the Iranian citizens released in America will return to [Iran], and another person will travel to another country due to the presence of their family, and the other two people will remain in the United States,” Kanaani instructed reporters, in response to Iranian state media.

Also Monday, the $6 billion in Iranian funds beforehand held in South Korea arrived in Qatari banks, in response to Kanaani. The transfer is a key situation of the swap.

U.S. advances deal with Iran to swap prisoners, free frozen oil funds

The deal, negotiated over a number of months, marks a significant breakthrough for the bitter foes, who stay at odds over a variety of points, together with the fast growth of Tehran’s nuclear program, its ongoing military support for Russia and Iran’s harsh crackdown on inner dissent.

The prisoners’ launch has additionally come beneath harsh criticism from Republicans in Congress against any settlement that entails the unfreezing of Iranian funds. Though the cash could also be used just for the acquisition of humanitarian items beneath the settlement, Republicans argue that the Biden administration ought to have negotiated a deal with extra favorable phrases for the United States.

The $6 billion had been held in South Korea, one among Iran’s largest oil clients, on account of a waiver issued by the Trump administration in 2018 that permitted Seoul to proceed buying Iran’s oil. Those funds grew to become caught in 2019 when the Trump administration tightened sanctions on Iran.

Over the previous week, in preparation for the deal to be finalized, these funds had been transformed from Korean foreign money to euros earlier than being moved to accounts in Qatar that can be utilized just for the acquisition of non-sanctioned items, like meals and drugs. U.S. officers say they may proceed to have oversight of the cash to make sure it is not getting used for nefarious functions.

Before the prisoner deal, the Biden administration’s relations with Tehran had been marked by deep mistrust, largely over the failure to revive a nuclear deal that Biden had promised to resume when he ran for president. Tehran has refused to speak immediately with Washington, requiring third events to dealer discussions.

The United States’ European allies, which broadly assist a revised deal to restrain Tehran’s nuclear program, hope that progress on detainees will pave the best way for extra productive nuclear discussions.

Iran’s nuclear program has expanded considerably following the choice by President Donald Trump to drag the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal. The accord, cast by the Obama administration, imposed strict limitations on Iran’s program in trade for sanctions aid.

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