President Joe Biden has signed off on a new deal with Iran that will see $6 billion in assets that were once seized released back to the country, so that five American prisoners can be freed.
Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, signed a blanket waiver just last week so that banks can transfer those seized Iranian assets over from South Korea. Those assets will go to Qatar, which will then give the funds to Iran.
The Biden administration will also be releasing five prisoners from Iran so that five American prisoners that are being detained in Iran can be freed.
Congress received official notification of this deal on Monday, even though details of it were first released about a month ago. The Associated Press reported that banks were hesitant to release the funds at first, for fear that they would be violating sanctions.
At that time, four of the five American prisoners were released from an Iranian prison to house arrest.
While it’s great to see American prisoners freed from Iran, there are many people who are criticizing the deal as simply a “ransom” payment.
On Monday, Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa tweeted:
“President Biden is going through with his $6 BILLION payout to the IRGC and its proxies. This will only greenlight Iran’s illicit actions and encourage further hostage ‘diplomacy.’ Biden’s failed strategy of appeasement must end.”
While the Biden administration is seemingly hoping that this deal might ease tensions between Iran and the U.S., there are many lawmakers and experts in foreign policy who have said they believe it might do the opposite. In other words, Iran might decide to be more aggressive with America, hoping that it could receive more concessions from the U.S. government.
In addition, Iran isn’t likely to be persuaded to re-enter a nuclear de-escalation agreement with the U.S. because of this prisoner exchange agreement. In fact, the United Nations issued a report recently that said “no progress” has been made surrounding the key issues of Iran’s nuclear resources.
Last month, Iran security expert Behnam Ben Taleblu spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation about the issue. He works for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, serving as its senior researcher on Iranian security and political issues.
He commented on the recent agreement:
“Thinking that this will generate goodwill to get Iran to meaningfully curb or end its nuclear program is a fool’s errand, as Tehran has a habit of pocketing concessions and turning the dial back up, on both nuclear escalation and hostage-taking, when needed.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, one of the leading Republican hopefuls for president, criticized the deal last month as well. He tweeted even harsher words:
“Biden is shamefully caving to Iran’s blackmail and extortion. Rewarding Iran for taking Americans hostage incentivizes more hostage-taking. Biden must stop obsessively pursuing disastrous deals that endanger our security. It is time to stand up to Iran with maximum pressure and roll back Iran’s malign influence.”