The United States of America is denying a report on Iranian state TV that Tehran has reached a deal with Britain and Washington to free prisoners with Western ties in exchange for billions of dollars in new economic aid.
United States officials said a deal to revive a nuclear accord with Iran and ease sanctions is not imminent and separately denied an Iranian report on an impending prisoner swap.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, said on ABC’s program ‘This Week’ on May 2 that the short answer is there is no deal. He said United States’ diplomats would keep working at that over the coming weeks to arrive at a mutual return to the atomic agreement within guidance laid out by the American President.
Ned Price, State Department spokesman, said that reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached aren’t accurate. As they have said, they always raise the cases of American people detained or missing in Iran. They wouldn’t stop until they can reunite them with their families.
World powers, led by the EU and including China and Russia, are seeking to broker an Iran-American deal to revive the accord abandoned by former US President Trump in 2018. Mr. Sullivan rejected comments on May 1 by Abbas Araghchi, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, that there is an agreement to lift sanctions on most individuals and Iran’s energy, financial, auto, port industries, and insurance.
Ronald Alan Klain, White House Chief of Staff, also denied the Iranian report on CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation’ show, saying that there is no agreement to release those four Americans. They’re working very hard to get them released.
Britain agreed to pay 552M dollars for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Iranian state television quoted a source saying that the Americans accepted to pay 7 billion dollars and swap 4 Iranians who were active in bypassing sanctions for 4 American spies who have served part of their sentences.
Tehran is known to hold four Americans in prison, including Siamak Namazi and Baquer, Iranian-American businessman Emad Shargi and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz. The state Television report didn’t name the Iranians that Tehran wished to have repatriated in the swap.
In addition, the report quoted the source as saying Britain had agreed to pay 552 million dollars for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman.
The British Foreign Office stated the country continues to explore possibilities to resolve the case. Moreover, it added that they wouldn’t discuss further as legal negotiations are ongoing.
Last week, her lawyer said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to an additional year in prison for participating in a movement in front of the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.
And the new sentence came after she completed a 5-year prison term in Iran on her conviction for plotting to overthrow Iran’s administration, a charge that she has refused.
She was employed at the news agency’s charitable arm, Thomson Reuters Foundation, when she was taken into custody at the Tehran airport in April 2016. She was turning home to Britain after visiting family.
The Iranian hostages-for-cash report came because of recent indirect talks in Vienna between Iran and America over President Biden’s effort to rejoin the 2015 international compact with Tehran to curb Iran’s program to build a nuclear warhead. US President’s immediate predecessor, Trump, withdrew from the agreement in May 2018.
Tehran says its nuclear armaments program is for peaceful purposes but has recently increased its uranium enrichment.