President Joe Biden will approve the transfer $6 billion of frozen funds to the government of Iran in a prisoner swap deal, it was confirmed Monday.
The deal would free five Americans being held captive in Iran in exchange for the release of five Iranian citizens being held in the U.S.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the waivers for the frozen funds last week, but the deal was confirmed only after Blinken notified Congress on Monday, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“To facilitate their release, the United States has committed to release five Iranian nationals currently held in the United States and to permit the transfer of approximately $6 billion in restricted Iranian funds held in [South Korea] to restricted accounts in Qatar, where the funds will be available only for humanitarian trade,” wrote Blinken.
The Iranian prisoners have not yet been named.
Republicans sharply criticized Biden over the deal.
“First Joe Biden used 9/11 as an excuse to flee Afghanistan. Now he desecrates this day by paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Shameful,” said Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
“It’s ridiculous for US to be blackmailed into paying $6B for hostages which will help indirectly finance the number 1 foreign policy of Iran: terrorism Last time it was $1.7B traded for hostages next time it will probably be $10B the price keeps going up & up,” said Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa.