According to Iranian media, Iran is expecting the US to unfreeze $7 billion in Iranian funds that are held by South Korea after Tehran released two Iranian-Americans from prison.
Iranian-American Baquer Namazi, 85, was released from detention in Iran and allowed to leave the country to seek medical treatment. His son, Siamak Namazi, was also released from detention.
When the releases were first announced, they were said to be temporary. But on Sunday, the Iranian news agency IRNA said the Iranian-Americans were released as part of a broader deal to unlock Iranian funds.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” IRNA said.
A US State Department spokesperson rejected the idea that the US would release any funds as part of a deal with Iran and said Washington was still working to secure the full release of Siamak Namazi.
The $7 billion held by South Korea was taken from Iran when the US withdrew from the nuclear deal by reimposing sanctions. The Biden administration has taken a hard line on Iran and hasn’t shown any signs that it’s easing sanctions.
The release of the Iranian-Americans comes as talks to revive the nuclear deal are stalled, but Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that they’re ready for a prisoner swap with the US. Iran is seeking the release of over a dozen Iranians in the US, most of whom have been arrested for allegedly violating sanctions.