US former president Donald Trump and Republican senators in Congress accused President Joe Biden of paying ransom to Iran in the prisoner swap deal.
Reports about the US-Iran prisoner swap deal are suggesting that the prisoner exchange will happen as soon as next week. In addition, the Biden administration has also reportedly agreed to unfreeze Iranian funds from South Korea to make the deal with Tehran.
To read between the lines, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a waiver last week to banks in South Korea to allow the transfer of $6 billion in frozen Iranian to Qatar. This would allow Iran to use the money to buy food, medicine, and other humanitarian items allowed by US economic sanctions.
Strongly criticizing Biden for making such a huge concession to the Iranian side, US former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday on Truth Social that the deal sets what he described as a “TERRIBLE precedent.”
“So, let’s get this straight! We did a hostage TRADE with Iran. We gave them 5 very tough, smart people that they desperately wanted. We likewise got back 5 people BUT, we also gave them 6 BILLION DOLLARS! How much of a kickback does Crooked Joe Biden get? Does anyone realize how much money 6 Billion Dollars is?” Trump said Tuesday.
Republicans joined Trump in attacking Biden
Following suit, the Republican senators in Congress also echoed Trump’s words and lashed out at the Biden administration for the decision to pay Iran billions of money in a prisoner exchange, accusing Biden of “paying ransom to a world state sponsor of terrorism”.
Claiming that the prisoner swap deal with Iran will encourage enemies of the US to take more American hostages, Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina said on Twitter that “I am always glad when Americans are released from captivity. However, this agreement will entice rogue regimes, like Iran, to take even more Americans hostage. The ayatollah and his henchmen are terrorists and truly represent a terrorist state.”
Likewise, Senator John Thune from South Dakota also said on Facebook that the US “should be unrelenting in its efforts to bring detained Americans home, but Iran will now count pallets of ransom money, putting its leaders in a better position to develop a nuclear weapon and fund terrorists. And the price to release U.S. hostages will only go up.”
Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz also joined Biden’s critics and alleged on Twitter that Biden had struck a “secret nuclear deal with the Iranian regime” and that it was being “kept from Congress and the American people.”
“The Biden administration must keep their deal secret because if they disclosed it, the law requires them to come to Congress and defend it, and this appeasement is utterly indefensible,” he wrote, without providing evidence for his claims or other details. “Instead they will continue lying about their policies until Congress forces them to do otherwise.”
Biden administration defended the deal
Defending the prisoner swap deal with Iran against Republicans, the White House said the US is not giving Iran any money.
“This isn’t a payment of any kind. These aren’t U.S. dollars. They aren’t taxpayer dollars, they are Iranian dollars the previous Administration allowed them to make,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement this Wednesday.
A senior Biden administration official also asserted that although the money in South Korea is Iran’s. no cash will be given to the Islamic Republic. “No funds are going to Iran directly,” the official said. “These funds will be moved to restricted accounts in Qatar, and the United States will have oversight as to how and when these funds are used.”