US makes deal with Iran to swap five American prisoners for $6billion in frozen funds

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The Biden administration has made a deal with Iran to release $6 billion in frozen funds in exchange for the release of five American prisoners in Iran by issuing a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of U.S. sanctions.

In addition, as part of the deal, the administration has agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the United States.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed off on the sanctions waivers late last week, a month after U.S. and Iranian officials said an agreement in principle was in place.

Congress was not informed of the waiver decision until Monday, according to the notification, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The outlines of the deal had been previously announced and the waiver was expected.

But the notification marked the first time the administration said it was releasing five Iranian prisoners as part of the deal.

The prisoners have not been named.

Last month four of the five detainees were moved from Iranian jails to house arrest in a hotel in the controversial deal described as a ransom note by Republican critics.

One was already under house arrest.

The waiver will boost the Iranian economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and Mideast allies.

The waiver means that European, Middle Eastern, and Asian banks will not run afoul of U.S. sanctions in converting the money frozen in South Korea and transferring it to Qatar´s central bank, where it will be held for Iran to use for the purchase of humanitarian goods.