AP previously reported that Washington is considering a “near wholesale rollback” of anti-Iran sanctions imposed under the Trump administration in 2018 as part of a new deal with Iran aimed at returning both countries to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal).
The US may un-freeze Iranian assets worth a total of $7 billion, the Lebanese network Al-Mayadeen reported citing anonymous sources in the Islamic Republic. The media platform said the Biden administration originally wanted to avoid “paying” anything to Iran while the negotiations on the JCPOA are still ongoing. Tehran, however, insisted on this provision.
Additionally, the two countries may conduct an exchange of prisoners, the TV channel reported. According to the media outlet, Tehran might hand over four suspects in espionage cases to Washington. Iran will reportedly receive four of its own agents held in the US in exchange. These four Iranians were reportedly involved in efforts to circumvent American sanctions.
The US State Department has denied reports that a “prisoner swap deal has been reached” with Iran, but has not commented on the claims about possibly unfreezing Iranian funds. Tehran has not commented on the report.Al-Mayadeen stated that similar “security talks” also took place between Iran and the UK. The sides reportedly discussed the release of 400 million pounds ($552.7 million) in frozen Iranian assets.
JCPOA Talks in Vienna Possibly Close to Success
The reports come as talks on restoring the Iran nuclear deal reportedly draw to a successful close, according to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. He said the sides have agreed on lifting sanctions from many Iranian individuals and companies and added that Tehran will continue talks to get all of them removed from the sanctions lists. The deputy minister did not elaborate on the steps that Iran agreed to take in return.
All of the remaining signatories to the JCPOA have been gathering in Vienna for the past two weeks to figure out a way to restore the nuclear deal and return both Iran and the US to compliance with it. Washington is taking part in these talks indirectly. Both Tehran and Washington refused to make the first step, but the Joint Commission of the JCPOA intends to devise a mutual return to compliance that suits both sides.
The Iran nuclear deal ended up on the verge of collapse after the Trump administration withdrew from it in May 2018, slapping hefty sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s oil and banking industries. A year later, Iran announced gradual steps at withdrawing from the nation’s JCPOA commitments in response to the failure of the remaining signatories to protect the country from the effects of the said American sanctions, vowing to return to compliance with the accord’s provisions once the sanctions are lifted.