Five Iranian Americans arrived in Qatar on Monday after being released by Iranian authorities as part of a prisoner swap deal between Washington and Tehran that was mediated by Doha and unfroze $6 billion in Iranian funds.
The five Americans were greeted by US and Qatari officials and given a brief medical check before boarding a government plane headed for Washington. In exchange for Iran releasing the Americans, the US released five Iranians and dropped charges against them.
Two of the released Iranians also arrived in Qatar on Monday and are headed to Iran. According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the other three are not returning to Iran. One will join his family in a third country, and two decided to stay in the US.
According to Iran’s PressTV, Iran’s Central Bank chief said the $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue that the US agreed to release was now in Qatar. The money was transferred from South Korea, where it was frozen in 2018 when the US tore up the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, by reimposing sanctions on Iran.
The prisoner swap suggests there may be more room for diplomatic maneuvering between the US and Iran on a new nuclear deal, although a Biden administration official downplayed the idea.
“If we see an opportunity, we will explore it, but right now, I’ve really nothing to talk about,” the official said, according to NBC News. In another sign that the US isn’t interested in more diplomacy with Iran, the US issued new sanctions on Iran at the end of last week.