A tentative agreement was reached between the United States and Iran this week, which will result in the release of five Americans detained in Iran and an unknown number of Iranians imprisoned in U.S. custody after the transfer of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets from South Korean banks to Qatar.
After months of indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian officials, a complex deal was announced on Thursday when Iran released four of the five Americans from prison to house arrest, with the fifth American already under house detention.
The specifics of the money transfer, its completion date, and the ultimate release of American and Iranian prisoners are not known. Nevertheless, U.S. and Iran officials anticipate that the agreement could be completed in mid- to late September.
An examination of the information available on the agreement.
What’s present in it?
The U.S. has authorized South Korea to exchange seized Iranian assets for euros, in accordance with the tentative agreement that converts the won into euros.
Qatar, a small energy-rich nation on the Arabian Peninsula, is expected to receive the money sent to them. Seoul’s possible payment for oil purchases before sanctions were implemented by the Trump administration in 2019, could be between $6 billion and $7 billion, depending on exchange rates.
Once in Qatar, the money is said by the U.S. to be held in limited accounts and can only be used for humanitarian goods like medicine and food, which are currently permitted under American sanctions against the Islamic Republic due to its nuclear program.
Some in Iran have disputed the U.S. claim, asserting that Tehran will control the funds entirely. Qatar has not provided any information on how it will manage the money’s distribution.
The U.S.-based lawyer representing one of the five Iranian-Americans held in Iran are being held without bail, and they will be released as part of negotiations.
What is the reason for its prolonged duration?
The frozen assets in South Korean won are not easily convertible, and Iran is against it. U.S. officials have expressed their concern that converting $6 or $7 billion in foreign currency into other currencies could harm the economy and its exchange rate.
Due to slow processing, South Korea is converting smaller amounts of frozen assets to be transferred to Qatar’s central bank. Furthermore, the money must not be exposed to the U.S. financial system or subject to sanctions from the United States. This has led to an intricate and time-consuming process of transfers through third-party banks.
The U.S. National Security Council’s representative, John Kirby, confirmed on Friday that they have worked closely with South Korea to ensure the transfer of the account from South Korean control to Qatar without any hindrance.
The Minister of State, Mohammed Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi, in Doha stated that the agreement’s achievements demonstrate the trust of these parties in Qatar as a neutral mediator and global partner in resolving international disputes peacefully.
Who are the individuals belonging to the Iranian-American ethnic group?
Three of the five prisoners’ identities have been revealed, while the identities of two others remain undisclosed. The American government has stated that they are keeping their identities private, and Iran has not disclosed any information about them.
Siamak Namazi, who was apprehended in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying charges, is one of the three identified. Another example is Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist serving ten years behind bars.
Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-born British-American conservationist who was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years has become the third.
Those advocating for their release claim that they were wrongly detained and innocent. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has used Western prisoners as bargaining chips in negotiations.
What is the reason for this sale happening at this moment?
After withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, American sanctions have had a devastating impact on Iran’s economy, which is already struggling.
Claims of progress in talks regarding frozen assets have only led to a temporary boost for Iran’s erratic rial currency.
The release of that money, even if it was only given out under strict conditions, could result in an economic stimulus.
The U.S. administration led by President Biden attempted to re-enter the deal, which fell apart after Trump’s withdrawal in 2018. In the previous year, countries that were part of the original agreement provided Tehran with their final opportunity to restore the agreement, but Iran did not accept it.
The new agreement has been criticized by Iran hawks in Congress and non-proponents of the 2015 nuclear deal. Former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Jim Risch, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have likened the money transfer to paying a ransom and claimed that the Biden administration is encouraging Iran to continue taking prisoners.
Is there a possibility that the U.S. will release Iranian nationals in America?
Iran’s Foreign Ministry made a point of emphasis on the prisoners on Friday. Although American officials have not commented on who or how many Iranian prisoners might be released in if deemed part of thriftrift, Iranian media has previously identified several prisoners with cases related to violations of U.S. export laws and restrictions on conducting business with Iran.
Allegedly, the violations consist of the transfer of funds through Venezuela and the sale of dual-use equipment that the U.S. believes could be utilized in Iran’s military and nuclear operations.
Is it possible that Iran and the United States have similar nutritional requirements?
Tehran has been accused of carrying out a series of attacks and ship seizures in the Mideast since 2019, beyond the ongoing tensions over the nuclear deal and Iran’s atomic intentions.
The Pentagon is contemplating the possibility of deploying American soldiers to protect commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, which accounts for 20% of oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf.
The deployment of F-35s, F-16s and other aircraft is underway in the region, with U.S. sailors and Marines leading the way. Iran also supplies Russia with bomb-bearing drones that Moscow uses to attack targets in Ukraine during the war against Kyiv.
Lee provided coverage from Washington.