Biden Giving $6 Billion Of Taxpayer Money To Who?

Photo by Mackenzie Marco on Unsplash

The U.S. government’s potential decision to release $6 billion in funds to Iran in return for the liberation of five American captives has stirred debate in Washington.

Critics argue that this agreement portrays the U.S. as submissive and raises concerns that these funds could finance Iran’s armed forces, who have previously captured U.S. vessels and supported groups in Syria targeting U.S. soldiers.

On the other hand, proponents believe this is a crucial move to secure the freedom of detained Americans. They also hope this might pave the way for further diplomatic breakthroughs with Iran, potentially reviving the Iran nuclear agreement.

Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute emphasized that the design of this arrangement would primarily restrict Iran to utilize the funds for humanitarian needs. He pointed out that this move is crucial for deescalating tensions between the two nations.

He also highlighted that the $6 billion is only a fraction of the total funds belonging to Iran that are held globally. Vatanka added that this does not represent a setback for the U.S. but rather highlights Iran’s urgency.

Historically, the U.S. withheld $6 billion from Iran’s oil sales to South Korea in 2018 when the previous U.S. administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. This deal had lifted sanctions on Iran in return for their commitment to abstain from nuclear weapon development.

Under the Biden government, there’s been a renewed focus on diplomatic relations with Iran, trying to restore the previous nuclear agreement. Simultaneously, South Korea has been eager to access these funds to continue their oil trade with Iran, while the U.S. has been advocating for the release of Americans they deem as unjustly imprisoned.

The five Americans in the proposed deal are imprisoned on charges of espionage, which the U.S. views with skepticism. Among them, Siamak Namazi was detained in 2015, Emad Sharghi in 2020, and Morad Tahbaz, who also holds British citizenship, in 2018.

Vedant Patel from the State Department clarified that the funds, monitored in a Qatari bank, would only be used by Iran for humanitarian purposes.

John Kirby from the White House also noted that the deal isn’t finalized yet and will undergo strict processes involving the U.S. Treasury Department.

However, some Republican members, while advocating for the release of the imprisoned Americans, criticize the linkage of their release to the unlocking of funds, asserting that it might encourage Iran’s aggressive behavior.

Despite these tensions, there are hints that negotiations for this U.S.-Iran agreement have been underway for some time. Recent events, such as the shift of some hostages to house arrest, indicate progress. But challenges persist, with increasing confrontations involving Iranian naval forces and stalled discussions regarding the nuclear agreement under Biden’s leadership.

Those opposing the revival of the nuclear deal believe it’s insufficient to contain Iran’s military ambitions. However, the State Department and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have insisted that this potential exchange is focused only on the detained Americans.

Russell Lucas, an academic at Michigan State University, believes that while this deal might be singular, it could help in reducing regional tensions and foster future diplomatic efforts. He argued that a military strategy might not effectively alter Iran’s behavior, emphasizing the need for diplomatic solutions.