The Biden administration claimed that $6 billion set to be released to Iran as part of a prisoner-swap deal will only be used for humanitarian purposes.
But Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says his government will use that money however it wants.
What is the background?
On Monday, the Biden administration revealed diplomats struck a deal with Iran to swap five Iranian prisoners being held in the U.S. for five American prisoners being held in Iran.
Included in the deal is a transfer of $6 billion in frozen funds.
“To facilitate their release, the United States has committed to release five Iranian nationals currently held in the United States and to permit the transfer of approximately $6 billion in restricted Iranian funds held in [South Korea] to restricted accounts in Qatar, where the funds will be available only for humanitarian trade,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
What did Raisi say?
Speaking with NBC News anchor Lester Holt this week, the Iranian president contradicted Blinken and said Iran will use the unfrozen funds however officials please.
“This money belongs to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and naturally, we will decide, the Islamic Republic of Iran, will decide to spend it wherever we need it,” Raisi said.
Holt asked in response, “So if I hear you clearly that it will be used for more than humanitarian purposes in your view?”
“Humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people need, so this money will be budgeted for those needs,” Raisi responded. “And the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government.”
Exclusive: Iranian President Raisi speaks about prisoner exchange and protest crackdownwww.youtube.com
On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Matt Miller was repeatedly asked about the money and Raisi’s truth-telling.
Miller insisted the Treasury Department will have oversight of the funds and promised the money will only be used for humanitarian purposes. He did not explain, however, how exactly the U.S. will ensure the money is spent as promised.
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