Iran-US prisoner swap possible set in movement as $6 billion of once-frozen Iranian property reaches Qatar


Iran and the US will trade prisoners on Monday after some $6 billion as soon as frozen in South Korea reached Qatar, a key aspect of the deliberate swap, officers mentioned.

The deliberate trade comes simply forward of the United Nations Normal Meeting in New York, the place Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi will converse.

Nevertheless, the swap gained’t imply that tensions have been lowered between the US and Iran, which now enriches uranium nearer than ever to weapons-grade ranges.

Iranian Overseas Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani was the primary to acknowledge the swap would happen Monday. He mentioned the money hunted for the trade was now in Qatar.

A person with direct data of the deal, who spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity given the trade had but to be concluded, later mentioned that each Iranian and US officers had been notified by Qatar that the cash had been transferred from Switzerland into the Gulf Arab nation.

Emad Shargi – certainly one of 5 US residents at present imprisoned in Tehran Evin jail.
Shargi Household Handout

Kanaani made his feedback throughout a information convention aired on state tv, however the feed reduce instantly after his remarks with out clarification.

“We witnessed freezing of elements Iranian property in some international locations together with South Korea,” Kanaani mentioned.

“As a part of our coverage of energetic overseas diplomacy, luckily, Iran’s frozen property in South Korea have been launched and God prepared at this time the property will begin to be absolutely managed by the federal government and the nation.”

British-Iranian environmentalists Morad Tahbaz and Roxanne Tahbaz pose in this file picture obtained from social media.
British-Iranian environmentalists Morad Tahbaz and Roxanne Tahbaz pose on this file image obtained from social media.

“As regards to the prisoner swap, it would occur at this time, and 5 prisoners, residents of the Islamic Republic, will probably be launched from the prisons within the US,” Kanaani added.

“5 imprisoned residents who have been in Iran will probably be given to the US aspect reciprocally, based mostly on their will. We anticipate these two points absolutely happen based mostly on the settlement.”

He mentioned two of the Iranian prisoners will keep within the US.

Siamak Namazi is seen posing in an undated photo.
Siamak Namazi is seen posing in an undated picture.

Iranian information companies instantly afterward reported, quoting Kanaani, that the prisoner swap can be finished on Monday. There was no different data instantly launched by the companies and Washington didn’t acknowledge the feedback.

Nevertheless, a Qatar Airways Airbus A320 landed on Monday morning at Mehrabad Worldwide Airport in Tehran, the place earlier prisoner releases have taken place, in response to flight-tracking information analyzed by the AP. Qatar Airways makes use of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Worldwide Airport for its industrial flights.

The announcement by Kanaani comes weeks after Iran mentioned that 5 Iranian-People are actually underneath home arrest as a part of a confidence-building transfer whereas Seoul allowed the frozen property, held in South Korean gained, to be transformed into euros.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks during the official farewell ceremony for his trip to New York, at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran, September 18, 2023.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks in the course of the official farewell ceremony for his journey to New York, at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 18, 2023.
by way of REUTERS

That cash was then despatched to Qatar, an interlocutor between Tehran and Washington within the negotiations.

The deliberate swap has unfolded amid a serious American army buildup within the Persian Gulf, with the opportunity of US troops boarding and guarding industrial ships within the Strait of Hormuz, by means of which 20% of all oil shipments go.

The deal has additionally already opened President Joe Biden to contemporary criticism from Republicans and others who say that the administration helps increase the Iranian financial system at a time when Iran poses a rising menace to US troops and Mideast allies. That might carry over into his reelection marketing campaign as properly.

On the US aspect, Washington has mentioned the deliberate swap contains Siamak Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and was later sentenced to 10 years in jail on internationally criticized spying expenses; Emad Sharghi, a enterprise capitalist sentenced to 10 years; and Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and likewise obtained a 10-year sentence.

US officers have thus far declined to determine the fourth and fifth prisoners.

The 5 prisoners Iran has mentioned it seeks are principally held over allegedly making an attempt to export materials to Iran.

President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport on September 17, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
Celebrity Sightings In New York City - September 17, 2023
President Biden disembarks Air Power One at John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport on Sept. 17, 2023, in New York Metropolis.
GC Photographs

The ultimate greenback quantity from Seoul might be anyplace between $6 billion to $7 billion, relying on trade charges.

The money represents cash South Korea owed Iran — however had not but paid — for oil bought earlier than the Trump administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

The US maintains that, as soon as in Qatar, the cash will probably be held in restricted accounts and can solely be capable to be used for humanitarian items, corresponding to medication and meals.

Neda Shargi, sister of Iranian prisoner Emad Shargi, hugs former Syrian hostage Sam Goodwin before a news conference with families of Americans currently being held hostage on May 4, 2022, in Washington.
Neda Shargi, sister of Iranian prisoner Emad Shargi, hugs former Syrian hostage Sam Goodwin earlier than a information convention with households of People at present being held hostage on Might 4, 2022, in Washington.

These transactions are at present allowed underneath American sanctions focusing on the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear program.

Iranian authorities officers have largely concurred with that clarification, although some hard-liners have insisted, with out offering proof, that there can be no restrictions on how Tehran spends the cash.

Iran and the US have a historical past of prisoner swaps courting again to the 1979 US Embassy takeover and hostage disaster following the Islamic Revolution.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei attends a ceremony at Imam Khomeini Husseinya to commemorate Arbaeen, in Tehran, Iran on September 06, 2023.
Iranian Supreme Chief Ali Khamenei attends a ceremony at Imam Khomeini Husseinya to commemorate Arbaeen, in Tehran, Iran on Sept. 6, 2023.
Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photographs

Their most up-to-date main trade occurred in 2016 when Iran got here to a take care of world powers to limit its nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions.

4 American captives, together with Washington Submit journalist Jason Rezaian, flew dwelling from Iran on the time, and a number of other Iranians within the US gained their freedom. That very same day, President Barack Obama’s administration airlifted $400 million in money to Tehran.

Iran has obtained worldwide criticism over its focusing on of individuals with twin citizenship. The West accuses Iran of utilizing overseas prisoners as bargaining chips, an allegation Tehran rejects.

Negotiations over a serious prisoner swap faltered after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal in 2018. From the next yr on, a sequence of assaults and ship seizures attributed to Iran have raised tensions.

In the meantime, Iran’s nuclear program now enriches nearer than ever to weapons-grade ranges. Whereas the pinnacle of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran now has sufficient enriched uranium to supply “a number of” bombs, months extra would possible be wanted to construct a weapon and probably miniaturize it to place it on a missile — if Iran determined to pursue one.

The US intelligence neighborhood has maintained its evaluation that Iran will not be pursuing an atomic bomb.

Iran has taken steps in latest months to settle some points with the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company. 

However the advances in its program have led to fears of a wider regional conflagration as Israel, itself a nuclear energy, has mentioned it will not enable Tehran to develop the bomb. Israel bombed each Iraq and Syria to cease their nuclear packages, giving the menace extra weight because it is also suspected in finishing up a sequence of killings focusing on Iran’s nuclear scientists.

Iran additionally provides Russia with the bomb-carrying drones Moscow makes use of to focus on websites in Ukraine in its warfare on Kyiv, which stays one other main dispute between Tehran and Washington.

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