by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The more we learn about President Biden’s latest agreement with the Iranian regime, the worse it looks.On September 11, the State Department told Congress that it plans to move forward with the arrangement that U.S. officials previewed last month by issuing waivers that allow the Iranians to receive some $6 billion in frozen funds held by South Korean banks. Under the plan, the U.S. and Iran are set to carry out a prisoner swap — trading Iranian nationals convicted of or credibly charged with illegally exporting controlled technology to Iran for American citizens wrongfully imprisoned there.
The sordid symbolism of notifying Congress on September 11 aside, Team Biden has created a terrible precedent and is materially aiding the Iranian regime.
As we wrote last month, Tehran will be free to do what it wants with the money, even though the administration says that it will be rigorously overseen by Qatar and used only for food, medicine, and other necessities. In fact, Iran’s president said just that in an interview Wednesday. “This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” he told Lester Holt.
Even if the Iranians conscientiously abide by the restrictions, money is fungible and funds currently being spent on food and medicine can now be diverted to other purposes.
Then, there’s the matter of the criminals that the U.S. plans to release to Iran. Al-Monitor reports that two of the Iranian nationals who will reportedly be released have already been convicted and sentenced to prison terms for evading U.S. laws that prohibit the transfer of certain technology to Iran; Mehrdad Ansari, one of those defendants, had attempted to obtain components that could be used by the Iranian military in its nuclear or missile programs.