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US allows US$6 billion transfer as part of Iran prisoner swop

WASHINGTON – The United States (US) waived sanctions to allow the transfer of US$6 billion (S$8.16 billion) in Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar, a step needed to carry out a previously announced US-Iran prisoner swop, according to a US document seen by Reuters on Monday.

The broad outlines of the US-Iran deal under which five US citizens detained by Iran would be allowed to leave in exchange for the transfer of the funds and the release of five Iranians held in the US were made public on Aug 10.

According to the State Department document seen by Reuters, Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined that waiving the sanctions was in the national security of the United States.

The document sent to US congressional committees marks the first time the US government has formally acknowledged it is releasing five Iranians detained in the United States as part of the agreement to secure the freedom of the five US citizens.

“To facilitate their release, the United States has committed to release five Iranian nationals currently detained in the United States and to permit the transfer of approximately US$6 billion in Iranian funds held in restricted accounts in the (Republic of Korea) to restricted accounts in Qatar, where the funds will be available only for humanitarian trade,” it said.

The waiver applies to certain financial institutions that fall under the primary jurisdiction of Germany, Ireland, Qatar, South Korea and Switzerland to engage in transactions with the National Iranian Oil Company, the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian financial institutions under US sanctions, it added. REUTERS

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