The Biden administration has cleared the way for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran by issuing a blanket waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian money from South Korea to Qatar without fear of US sanctions. In addition, as part of the deal, the administration has agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the United States.
Congress was not informed of the waiver decision until Monday, according to the notification, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
The outlines of the deal had been previously announced and the waiver was expected. But the notification marked the first time the administration said it was releasing five Iranian prisoners as part of the deal.
The prisoners have not been named.
The waiver drew criticism of President Joe Biden from Republicans and others who say the deal will boost the Iranian economy at a time when Iran poses a growing threat to U.S. troops and Mideast allies.
On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said “it’s ridiculous for US to be blackmailed into paying $6B for hostages which will help indirectly finance the number 1 foreign policy of Iran: terrorism.”