The U.S.-Iran Prisoner Swap Is About More Than Prisoners

After months of negotiations, the U.S. is unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian oil money and releasing five Iranian prisoners in exchange for the release of five American citizens held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

The deal, brokered by the Qatari government, represents an unusual moment of cooperation between the two countries, says Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

The $6 billion had been frozen in South Korea for years and has been a major point of dispute between Tehran and Washington. 

Nevertheless, some remain skeptical that the Islamic Republic would follow through on that kind of informal agreement. On Saturday, Iran barred one third of United Nations inspectors from monitoring its nuclear sites. 

Another concern, Vakil says, is that the Iranian regime could be further incentivized to take hostages in order to leverage political and monetary concessions from Western governments. 

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Source of data and images: time

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