US-Iran Prisoner Swap
The US and Iran executed a high-stakes prisoner swap yesterday, with five American citizens set to return to the US. In exchange, the US released five Iranians and unfroze nearly $6B in Iranian assets held in South Korea. The freed US prisoners include Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Shargi, and two unidentified Americans.
The US will monitor Iran's use of the assets to ensure they are used for humanitarian purposes like food and medicine. The monthslong negotiations were mediated by countries such as Qatar, Switzerland, and Oman due to the US and Iran not having formal diplomatic relations. Qatar's central bank will oversee the regulation of the unfrozen funds. See an explainer on Iran's frozen assets here.
The news comes as the countries remain at odds on select issues, including Iran's nuclear program, military support for Russia, and crackdown on dissent. Sanctions limiting Iranian economic activity with the US and its allies have been in place for decades, with tensions escalating in 2018 when the US withdrew from a nuclear deal. See a timeline of relations here.