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Americans Freed by Iran Return to US

Americans Freed by Iran Return to US

Americans Freed by Iran Return to US

Americans Freed by Iran Return to US

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  • The exchange includes five released Iranians and $6 billion in unfrozen funds.
  • It eases US-Iran tensions but doesn’t guarantee broader diplomacy.
  • US-Iran tensions stem from issues like Iran’s nuclear program.
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A plane carrying five Americans, who were released by Iran as part of a prisoner exchange deal, has touched down in the United States. This exchange occurred one day after they were swapped for the release of five Iranians held in the US and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian funds, marking a significant development in relations between the two arch-enemies.

The plane’s arrival was confirmed by media sources, although further details were not provided. This exchange was meticulously orchestrated after months of Qatar-mediated negotiations. It began when the blocked funds, previously held in South Korea, were wired through Switzerland to banks in Doha.

Following the fund transfer confirmation, the five US prisoners, along with two relatives, departed Tehran on a Qatari plane. Simultaneously, two of the five Iranian detainees landed in Doha on their journey back home, while three Iranians opted not to return to Iran.

This deal alleviates a longstanding point of contention between the United States, which designates Iran as a sponsor of terrorism, and Iran, which refers to Washington as the “Great Satan.” However, it remains uncertain whether this exchange will lead to progress on other contentious issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, support for regional militias, the US military presence in the Gulf, and US sanctions.

The released Americans include Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Sharqi, 59, both dual US-Iranian citizens and businessmen, along with Morad Tahbaz, 67, an environmentalist who also holds British nationality. Two of the prisoners have not been publicly identified. While US President Joe Biden welcomed their return, his administration concurrently announced fresh sanctions against Iran.

Biden stated, “We will continue to impose costs on Iran for their provocative actions in the region.” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, attending the UN General Assembly in New York, described the swap as a humanitarian action and suggested it could pave the way for future humanitarian gestures.

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Relations between the US and Iran have been particularly strained since 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and imposed stringent US sanctions. The US suspects Iran’s nuclear program of having military objectives, which Iran vehemently denies.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at the possibility of nuclear diplomacy but did not indicate any imminent developments. US analysts expressed skepticism about the prospects for significant progress in future negotiations, despite the prisoner exchange potentially opening doors for further diplomacy around Iran’s nuclear program in the coming months.

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