Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the deal last week, and Congress was notified Monday as lawmakers and officials honored the 22nd anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to the Associated Press.
In exchange for the prisoners, the United States will issue a waiver for banks in South Korea and Qatar to allow Iran access to billions of dollars without fear of violating U.S. sanctions. The funds will be transferred to Qatar’s central bank where the Iranian government can make requests to pay for humanitarian goods out of the account.
Iran is a prolific state sponsor of terrorism hampered by strict U.S. sanctions since former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. Trump scrapped the deal over concerns that the agreement would allow Iran to construct a nuclear weapon.
The Biden administration has tried to revive the Iran nuclear deal, but negotiations have been tabled for months. The White House has prioritized thawing relations with Iran to restore the agreement, and the prisoner swap may be an attempt by both sides at some de-escalation.
News of the finalized deal comes as Biden delivered comments on the anniversary of 9-11 from Alaska. During his remarks, the president claimed that he visited Ground Zero the day after the Twin Towers fell.
“Ground Zero in New York — I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell, it looked so devastating,” Biden said.
BIDEN: "Ground Zero in New York — I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell."
On September 12, 2001, Biden was in Washington, D.C., for a Senate session. pic.twitter.com/vUyu63KXcV
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 11, 2023
The president has taken criticism for jetting to Alaska and forgoing 9-11 ceremonies in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik called Biden’s absence from the services “disgusting.”
“I think it’s disgusting. I got to be honest, I was disgusted with the fact that Biden wasn’t going to be there or attend any ceremony whether it was New York, Shanksville, D.C., Pentagon,” Kerik said, according to Just The News.