- The US and Qatar have reportedly agreed not to release $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues unfrozen as part of the prisoner swap deal, according to a source familiar with the matter.
- The transfer of Iranian oil assets to Qatar as part of the deal has faced criticism from Republicans who believe it could support attacks, despite no evidence linking recent attacks to Iran.
- The Biden administration emphasizes that the funds will only be used for humanitarian purposes, with Iranian President deciding how they are spent. The exact timing of the agreement between the US and Qatar is undisclosed.
The United States and Qatar have reportedly reached an agreement not to release the $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues that were unfrozen as part of the recent prisoner swap deal, according to a source familiar with the matter. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo informed House Democrats of this understanding during a closed-door meeting.
As part of the prisoner swap deal to secure the release of five Americans wrongfully detained in Iran, the Biden administration had arranged for the transfer of Iranian oil assets from a restricted account in South Korea to Qatar. This move has faced criticism from many Republicans, who argue that it provides Iran with resources to support attacks. However, there is currently no evidence linking the recent attacks to Tehran, despite claims that Iran has long supported Hamas.
The Biden administration has emphasized that the unfrozen funds will not be given directly to Iran and will only be used for humanitarian purposes, such as purchasing food and medicine. However, Iranian President has stated that he will decide how the funds are spent. During the closed-door meeting with House Democrats, Adeyemo assured them that the $6 billion is not going to be released anytime soon.
The exact timing of the understanding between the US and Qatar remains undisclosed, so it is unclear whether it was reached after Hamas attacked Israel over the weekend. Nevertheless, even prior to this understanding, the process for Iran to access the funds was already complex and subject to scrutiny, making it unlikely for Iran to rapidly utilize the money for humanitarian purposes.
During a briefing with reporters, White House national security spokesman John Kirby reiterated that the Iranian regime will not receive any of the unfrozen funds.