Foreign Policy

published : 2023-09-13

Iranian President Reveals Plans for $6 Billion Gained in US Prisoner Exchange

US Agrees to Give Iran 5 Prisoners and Unfreeze $6 Billion in Assets

An image of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during the interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

In a groundbreaking prisoner exchange, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announces that the Iranian government will allocate the $6 billion it gained from the deal wherever it is needed.

The agreement, struck with the United States, involves the release of five American prisoners in exchange for the freedom of five Iranian citizens and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian oil assets previously locked up in South Korean banks due to US sanctions.

During an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, President Raisi asserts that the money rightfully belongs to the Iranian people and government, ensuring that it will be used for their needs.

The details of how the funds will be budgeted and allocated will be determined by the Iranian government, with a focus on humanitarian initiatives.

A photo of the five American prisoners being released in the prisoner exchange, taken with a Nikon D850.

To ensure that the funds are used solely for humanitarian purposes, Iran will have access to the money through Qatar's central bank, under the oversight of US officials.

While the prisoner exchange and release of frozen assets have been met with mixed reactions, there is hope that this monumental agreement will signal a positive shift in relations between Iran and the US.

Some critics, such as Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, express concern that releasing the funds may further contribute to Tehran's actions and hostage diplomacy.

However, others argue that this exchange presents an opportunity for humanitarian aid to reach the Iranian people, who have long been deprived of the benefits of oil revenues.

A snapshot showing the frozen Iranian oil assets being unfrozen in the South Korean banks, taken with a Sony Alpha A7R IV.

Senator Joni Ernst expresses skepticism regarding Iran's intentions for the funds and urges an end to the policy of appeasement, suggesting that Iran's actions may not align with the intended humanitarian goals.

Despite the concerns and criticisms, the Biden administration remains committed to securing the release of the wrongfully held Americans and stresses the ongoing discussions and briefings with Congress regarding this process.

The release of the American prisoners has not yet been scheduled publicly, but President Raisi assures that they are in good health and will be released in due time.

As the story continues to unfold, the impact of this prisoner exchange and the allocation of the released funds will become clearer, potentially reshaping the dynamics between Iran and the international community.