Biden and Blinken Pay Ransom to Iran

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Left: Morad Tahbaz is one of five U.S. citizens being imprisoned in Tehran. And on Right: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe [ Family Photos]

Paying a ransom of $6 billion for 5 hostages held by Iran is a disgrace.

Shame on America.

Now Iran will grab some more Americans and try and extort more money.

There is no end in sight.

The Biden administration has bent over with its pants down.

I am happy for the Americans who are being set free.

According to the Associated Press: “The American prisoners include Siamak Namazi, who was detained in 2015 and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison on internationally criticized spying charges; Emad Sharghi, a venture capitalist sentenced to 10 years; and Morad Tahbaz, a British-American conservationist of Iranian descent who was arrested in 2018 and also received a 10-year sentence. The fourth and fifth prisoners were not identified.” One of the two not identified is a woman.

The woman may be Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British dual citizen who was detained in Iran since April 2016 as part of a long running dispute between Britain and Iran.  She was found guilty of propaganda against the Iranian regime.

According to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, there are two other prisoners on death row in Iran:  US permanent residents, Shahab Dalili and Jamshid Sharmahd. According to him, the US  government has chosen not to classify them as wrongfully detained by Iran

The US also agreed to release five Iranian prisoners.  The names and crimes of the released Iranians have not been released, at least not yet. The terms of their release also isn’t clear. Will they be treated the same way as the US prisoners or just put on a plane to Tehran?

To spring the $6 billion, Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, “partially” waived US sanctions on Iran.  While he did this last week, he did not inform Congress until September 11th.

The US prisoners are all now under house arrest.  They will not be released until the $6 billion is transferred.  These are frozen Iranian funds held by South Korean banks. Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency said the funds were first to be converted from the South Korean currency into Euros and then sent to an account in Qatar that Iran could access.  Once that step is completed, the prisoners allegedly will be able to leave Iran.

What if Iran takes the money and holds the prisoners? What if Iran changes its mind on which prisoners to include? What if some of the Iranian prisoners in the US do not want to return to Iran? This deal is sitting on a bowel of Jell-o.

A proper deal would have had the prisoners put immediately on airplanes and sent outside of Iran. Holding them hostage longer is a great and unnecessary risk: bad diplomacy. Perhaps Mr. Blinken might watch the film Bridge of Spies. He might learn something. And yes, it is a true story.

It is presumed the South Koreans agree to release the Iranian funds. But is that assured?

Reportedly Blinken has spoken to the prisoners by telephone. That’s good, but it would have been better if he had met them embarking from an airplane in the United States.

We are still looking forward to a true accounting of the swap: who is being pardoned and sent home, who is left behind, and who are the Iranians the US is releasing? Will the deal really be honored?

Stephen Bryen

Stephen Bryen is a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and is a leading expert in security strategy and technology. Bryen writes for Asia Times, American Thinker, Epoch Times, Newsweek, Washington Times, the Jewish Policy Center and others.

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