Incentivizing More Iranian Terrorism

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on May 24, 2023. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP) (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images)

More than $6 billion in unfrozen funds are headed for Iranian coffers in exchange for the release of several American-Iranian dual nationals who were wrongfully detained. American officials insist the cash is restricted to humanitarian uses, but history indicates the agreement will likely finance terrorism abroad and fuel repression in Iran—all while encouraging more hostage-taking gambits.

Iranian authorities have already touted the $6 billion in oil revenues, which they claim to have the freedom to spend as they see fit. “The process of releasing billions of dollars from the assets of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which were illegally seized in South Korea by the United States for several years, has begun,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The decision on how to utilize these unfrozen resources and financial assets lies with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The Biden administration insists its tentative deal with Tehran was the first step toward securing the wrongfully detained Americans’ homecoming to the United States. The funds are reportedly set to go through Switzerland, where they’ll be converted from dollars to euros, before being transferred to Qatari commercial banks. In theory, the U.S. Treasury Department will oversee the transactions to ensure that they only include humanitarian purchases.

But Iran has a long history of abusing humanitarian carve-outs, analysts warn.

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