Trump slams Biden over US-Iran prisoner deal

Five people wrongfully imprisoned in Iran returned to the United States on Monday after President Biden struck a deal with the country

Ariana Baio
Tuesday 19 September 2023 17:35 BST
American citizens walk off plane after release from Iran in prisoner swap

Five Americans previously imprisoned in Iran are now home thanks to a deal President Joe Biden struck with Iran, but self-proclaimed great dealmaker Donald Trump doesn’t seem to think it was the right negotiation.

On Monday, Mr Biden announced that after years-long negotiations between Iran and the US, the country agreed to release five wrongfully detained people, some of whom have spent years in the infamous Elvin Prison.

In exchange for the five Americans, the US agreed to unfreeze $6bn in Iranian oil assets for a South Korean account.

But Mr Trump, the man who “knows deals … better than anybody knows deals”, believes the negotiation will make the US appear weak.

“This absolutely ridiculous 6 Billion Dollar Hostage Deal with Iran has set a terrible PRECEDENT for the future,” Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social on Monday.

He added: “The 3 years ago highly respected USA has become a laughingstock all over the WORLD.”

In touting his own negotiation skills, Mr Trump claimed he “never paid anything” to free hostages from around the world, including North Korea, while he was president.

“They all understood they MUST LET THESE PEOPLE COME HOME!” Mr Trump wrote. “Toward the end, it got so that countries didn’t even start the conversation asking for money, because they knew they would not get it.”

While Mr Trump did not exchange monetary means for hostages, several of his hostage agreements included prisoner swaps.

For years, Mr Trump has promoted his deal-making skills as masterful but he cooled the US’s relationship with Iran after pulling out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, which was a long-concerted effort to find compromise.

Mr Tahbaz (R, wearing mask) is welcomed on the tarmac at Doha airport after his release from Iran.
Mr Tahbaz (R, wearing mask) is welcomed on the tarmac at Doha airport after his release from Iran. (AFP via Getty Images)

Since Mr Biden took office, his administration has taken various steps to de-escalate tensions with Iran.

Other Republicans have criticised Mr Biden’s deal with Iran in exchange for the five prisoners, believing it depicts the US bending to Iran’s wants.

However, senior officials in the Biden administration clarified that the deal is “not a payment of any kind” and that the unfrozen assets “will be available only for transactions for humanitarian goods with vetted third-party, non-Iranian vendors.”

“The account in Korea is not a legally frozen account under our laws. The funds there have been legally available for non-sanctionable trade, including under the last administration,” the top official said.

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