On Sunday, May 2, the Biden administration refuted a claim by Iran’s state television that the arch-foes had reached an agreement on a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of $7 billion in frozen Iranian oil funds held in other countries due to the US sanctions, Reuters reported.
The report comes as the Biden administration is in negotiations with Iran to resurrect former President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with the nation.
The deal is called the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
According to AP, the Americans agreed to pay $7 billion and exchange four Iranians who were involved in circumventing sanctions for four American agents who had completed part of their sentences, Iranian state TV said, quoting an unnamed official.
A British prisoner will be released as part of another deal, according to Iranian state television.
“Release of Nazanin Zaghari in exchange for UK’s payment of its 400 million pound debt to Iran has also been finalized. According to Reuters, the source also said the Biden administration has agreed to pay Iran $7 billion,” the state TV said.
Iran has detained four Americans: Father and son Baquer and Siamak Namaz0 (the son a businessman, according to CBS News, the father a former member of the deposed shah’s regime); environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi, Western Journal reported.
British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is also being held. She was accused of plotting to destabilize Iran’s government. After spending five years in prison following her arrest in Iran in 2016, she was recently sentenced to an additional year in prison for her role in a 2009 protest in London.
The Biden administration has so far denied the report. “Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain also denied the claim. “Unfortunately, that report is untrue. There is no agreement to release these four Americans,” Klain said on CBS.
In 2016, Iran received $400 million in cash from the Obama administration, which was loaded onto pallets and flown there. The Obama administration justified the payments, claiming that they were due to Iran under a 1979 deal.
However, the cash shipment arrived at the same time that Iran released four Americans it had detained.
The Obama administration denied sending the money in return for the prisoners’ release on purpose.
Iran claims it is owed up to $20 billion that has been frozen in countries worldwide due to the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran.
Iran is now trying to get those sanctions lifted as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to re-establish the nuclear agreement that former President Donald Trump reneged on while in office.
In 2018, upon withdrawing from the deal, Trump claimed this deal gave the Iran regime “many millions of dollars in actual cash and is an “embarrassment” to all U.S. citizens, the Blaze reported.
He said that the deal was badly written and “defective at its core” and can trigger “a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” naming Iran’s regime “the leading state sponsor of terror” that “funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering its own people.”
He also said that the Iran agreement was based on “fiction,” referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on the subject on April 30 that year. Netanyahu said at the time that Israeli intelligence had uncovered evidence that Iran’s government was still working on developing a nuclear weapon.
Trump said that “if the regime continues its nuclear aspirations,” it will face “bigger problems than it ever has before.”