(RepublicanJournal.org) – President Joe Biden is trying to negotiate the release of five US citizens held prisoner by the Iranian regime. In return, he plans to release billions of dollars of frozen Iranian funds — on the condition Tehran spends the money on humanitarian purposes. Unfortunately, Iran is trying to change the rules.
On August 10, the Biden administration announced that five American detainees had been moved from Tehran’s notoriously brutal Evin Prison and transferred to house arrest in the Iranian capital. This was the first stage in a complicated deal that should, within a few weeks, see them allowed to return to the US.
In exchange, Biden plans to unlock around $6 billion of Iranian assets held in South Korean banks, which have been frozen as part of international sanctions against the Islamist regime and its illegal nuclear weapons program. To comply with the sanctions, the money will be released on condition that Iran only spends it for humanitarian purposes, such as buying food or medical supplies.
Just one day later, Iran’s foreign ministry issued a defiant statement, saying that the decision on how to spend the money “lies with the Islamic Republic of Iran” and the regime will “allocate these resources to address the various needs of the country.” Of course, one of the things Tehran thinks it needs is nuclear weapons.
This isn’t the first time a Democrat president has gotten into trouble trying to deal with Iran. The Obama administration also negotiated an agreement and ran into a storm of criticism from Republicans — including former president Donald Trump, who blasted Obama for “giving” Iran $150 billion. This wasn’t quite accurate; the $150 billion was Iranian money tied up in international projects, which Obama planned to give them access to. In the end, Trump backed out of the deal after he took office.
Biden is already facing criticism for the current negotiations. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby insists no ransom is being paid and says the $6 billion is already in an account that only lets Iran buy non-sanctioned goods, but many Republicans aren’t convinced. Former VP and 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence says it is a ransom, while former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that “Iran shouldn’t profit from holding Americans hostage.”
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