U.S., Iran Agree to Prisoner Swap—In Line With Nuclear Deal?
Did the United States just pay Iran $6 billion for a prisoner swap? U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced yesterday the U.S. and Iran have reached a prisoner swap agreement. Iran will return five Iranian-American dual nationals currently in custody. In return, the U.S. will release five imprisoned Iranians.
Three of the five American prisoners are Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz. All three were imprisoned on unproven charges of spying. The two other prisoners have not been identified, but sources told the New York Times that one was a scientist and the other a businessman. The prisoners the U.S. is exchanging are also unnamed; they are reportedly serving sentences for violating sanctions.
Cash to Khamenei: The deal also unfreezes roughly $6 billion in Iranian assets currently in South Korea. According to Farnaz Fassihi and Michael Shear, writing for the New York Times:
[The funds will be put] into an account in the central bank of Qatar, according to the people familiar with the deal. The account will be controlled by the government of Qatar and regulated so Iran can gain access to the money only to pay vendors for humanitarian purchases such as medicine and food, they said.
Iran constantly uses funds earmarked for such activities into its military projects. Iran is also the world’s biggest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism. And Qatar is in its own right quite generous in sponsoring Islamic terrorism. So it’s unlikely that Iran would live up to its end of the bargain.
Sign of a nuclear deal? The prisoner swap may corroborate earlier reports of an “unofficial” nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran. According to media reports, the two countries have an under-the-table understanding for Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment project (but not destroy infrastructure or enriched uranium stockpiles) in exchange for sanctions relief and release of prisoners.
The U.S. denies such a deal exists. But Iranian and Israeli sources have affirmed such an arrangement was under negotiation and may already be in place. The prisoner swap and unfreezing of assets may corroborate this.
What happens when Iran goes nuclear? Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote the following about the original 2015 nuclear deal:
When the agreement was concluded, many people were elated, but there should have been no celebration. What is at stake is nothing less than human survival. The world needed something that would have pulled us away from the brink of annihilation, but this deal did just the opposite.
The 2015 agreement was a bad deal. But this 2023 unofficial nuclear deal is even worse. The Trumpet will have an article in our upcoming issue on the agreement. Until then, read Chapter 6 of Mr. Flurry’s free booklet Great Again.