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Why $6 billion US-Iran deal is in spotlight after Hamas attack on Israel

Why $6 billion US-Iran deal is in spotlight after Hamas attack on Israel

NEW DELHI: The US-Iran deal is a prisoner swap agreement that was approved by President Joe Biden in September 2023. Under this deal, five US citizens detained by Iran were allowed to leave the country in exchange for the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian funds that had been frozen in South Korea. At the same time, five Iranians held in the United States were also allowed to leave. The $6 billion was Iranian money that had been blocked in South Korean banks after former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and banking sector in 2019.
The deal is in spthe otlight after Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that is backed by Iran, launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday, October 7, 2023. The attack and Israel’s retaliation have killed more than 1,100 people and sparked a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Some Republicans, including Nikki Haley, have accused Biden of indirectly supporting Hamas by allowing Iran access to the frozen funds. They claim that Iran could use the money to fund Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region.
“Let’s be honest with the American people and understand that Hamas knows, and Iran knows they’re moving money around as we speak, because they know $6 billion is going to be released. That’s the reality,” Haley said.
However, US secretary of state Antony Blinken has denied these allegations and said that there is no evidence linking Iran to the attack. He also said that Iran has not yet been able to spend a single dollar of the $6 billion in funds that were unfrozen in the deal. “It’s very unfortunate that some are playing politics at a time when so many lives have been lost and Israel remains under attack,” Blinken said. He explained that the funds are still in Doha, Qatar, and can only be used for humanitarian-related purposes, such as buying food, medicine, or agricultural products for the people of Iran. He said that the US Treasury has strict oversight and due diligence requirements for the transactions involving the funds.
The US-Iran deal is also seen as a step towards reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump withdrew from in 2018. The nuclear deal aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Biden has expressed his willingness to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to compliance with its obligations. However, the negotiations have faced several challenges and delays due to mutual distrust and regional tensions.
The US-Iran deal and the Hamas attack have highlighted the complex and volatile situation in the Middle East, where multiple actors have competing interests and agendas. The US faces a delicate balancing act of pursuing diplomacy with Iran while supporting its ally Israel and addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The outcome of the deal and the conflict could have significant implications for regional stability and global security.
(With inputs from agencies)

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