What’s behind the tentative US-Iran agreement involving prisoners and frozen funds

  DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United States and Iran reached a tentative agreement this week that will eventually see five detained Americans in Iran and an unknown number of Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. released from custody after billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets are transferred from banks in South Korea to Qatar.

The complex deal — which came together after months of indirect negotiations between U.S. and Iranian officials — was announced on Thursday when Iran moved four of the five Americans from prison to house arrest. The fifth American had already been under house arrest.

Details of the money transfer, the timing of its completion and the ultimate release of both the American and Iranian prisoners remain unclear. However, U.S. and Iranian officials say they believe the agreement could be complete by mid- to late-September A look at what is known about the deal.

Under the tentative agreement, the U.S. has given its blessing to South Korea to convert frozen Iranian assets held there from the South Korean currency, the won, to euros.

That money then would be sent to Qatar, a small, energy-rich nation on the Arabian Peninsula that has been a mediator in the talks. The amount from Seoul could be anywhere from $6 billion to $7 billion, depending on exchange rates. The cash represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid — for oil purchased before the Trump administration imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.

The U.S. maintains that, once in Qatar, the money will be held in restricted accounts and will only be able to be used for humanitarian goods, such as medicine and food. Those transactions are currently allowed under American sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic over its advancing nuclear program.

Some in Iran have disputed the U.S. claim, saying that Tehran will have total control over the funds. Qatar has not commented publicly on how it will monitor the disbursement of the money.

In exchange, Iran is to release the five Iranian-Americans held as prisoners in the country. Currently, they are under guard at a hotel in Tehran, according to a U.S.-based lawyer advocating for one of them.

By Associated Press

Related Articles

Back to top button