US, Qatar Agree to Deny Iran Access to $6 Billion of Its Funds

Iranian media reports say Iran still has access to the money

The US and Qatar have agreed to deny Iran access to $6 billion of its own funds that were recently released as part of a prisoner swap deal with the US, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

The $6 billion was frozen in South Korea due to US sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, in 2018.

As part of an agreement to secure the release of five Americans, the US agreed to allow the transfer of the $6 billion to Qatar, where US officials said it could only be accessed by Tehran for humanitarian purposes. The US also released five Iranians who were detained over alleged sanctions violations.

The swap was made in September, but the US decision to again freeze the $6 billion goes back on the agreement. The move came after Republicans and some Democrats claimed the release of the $6 billion was related to the Hamas attack on southern Israel. But so far, there are no indications Iran was involved, as US intelligence says Iranian leaders were surprised by the operation, and the Israeli military said there’s no evidence of Iranian involvement.

According to the Times, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told the House that Iran would no longer have access to the $6 billion. The report said it’s unclear if the Biden administration intends to cut off Iran’s access to the funds permanently or if it’s just a temporary measure. Iran’s Nournews also reported on Thursday that Iran still has access to the funds, so it’s unclear if they have been frozen yet.

The US decision dims hopes that the prisoner swap deal would foster more diplomacy between the US and Iran. Now, Iranian opponents of negotiating with the US have another example of the US backing out of a deal, similar to the JCPOA.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.