By granting a broad waiver to international banks so they can transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar without worrying about facing U.S. penalties, the Biden administration has paved the path for the release of five American citizens who are now incarcerated in Iran.
Additionally, as part of the agreement, the government has agreed to free five Iranian nationals detained in the country.
The transaction was approved by Secretary of State Antony Blinken late last week, but Congress was not informed of the decision until Monday, according to the notification that The Associated Press received.
Republicans and others who believe that the deal will strengthen Iran’s economy at a time when Iran poses a rising threat to American soldiers and Mideast allies are sure to criticize President Joe Biden for the waiver.
By converting the funds frozen in South Korea and sending them to Qatar’s central bank, where they will be held for Iran to use for the purchase of humanitarian supplies, European, Middle Eastern, and Asian institutions won’t violate U.S. sanctions.
The $6 billion payout was a crucial component of the prisoner release agreement, which resulted in the house arrest transfers of four of the five American detainees from Iranian prisons last month.
The fifth prisoner had been placed under home arrest before. Several European nations have declined to take part in the transfer because of the multiple U.S. restrictions placed on foreign institutions that participate in transactions that benefit Iran.
Blinken’s waiver aims to allay their worries about potential risks.