Some $6 billion to be released to Tehran as part of a prisoner swap with the United States is sitting in Qatar, AP quoted an Iranian official as saying on Monday.
The sanctioned assets, which had been frozen in South Korea, are a key part of the agreement to release five prisoners from each side.
“We witnessed freezing of parts [of] Iranian assets in some countries including South Korea,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said during a news conference that aired on state television.
“As part of our policy of active foreign diplomacy, fortunately Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea were released and God willing today the assets will start to be fully controlled by the government and the nation.”
Kanaani added: “On the subject of the prisoner swap, it will happen today and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from the prisons in the U.S. Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be given to the U.S. side reciprocally, based on their will. We expect these two issues [to] fully take place based on the agreement.”
A source with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed to AP that both Iranian and U.S. officials were notified by Qatar that the money had been transferred to Qatar from Switzerland.
The news of the likely prisoner swap on Monday comes after International Atomic Energy Agency Director Rafael Grossi on Saturday denounced Iran’s “unprecedented” move earlier in the day to bar inspectors from overseeing Tehran’s nuclear activities.
“I strongly condemn this disproportionate and unprecedented unilateral measure which affects the normal planning and conduct of agency verification activities in Iran,” he said, adding that it “openly contradicts the cooperation that should exist between the agency and Iran.”
Before departing for a seven-day visit to the United States on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Today, the world is seeing—and I will certainly emphasize this—that Iran is violating all of its commitments, that it brazenly lies, and that it intends both to develop nuclear weapons and continue its aggression in the region.”
Netanyahu also lashed out on Sunday night against anti-judicial reform protesters, saying they are “joining forces with the PLO and Iran” in harming the Jewish state.