Five Americans released by Iran returned to the United States

Five Americans, including one who had been detained by Iran for eight years, returned to the United States on Tuesday, thanks to an agreement between Washington and Tehran facilitated by the release of six billion dollars in frozen Iranian oil revenues

Five Americans released by Iran returned to the United States

Five Americans, including one who had been detained by Iran for eight years, returned to the United States on Tuesday, thanks to an agreement between Washington and Tehran facilitated by the release of six billion dollars in frozen Iranian oil revenues.

But this apparent clearing in the execrable relations for 40 years between the United States and Iran was greeted with caution by the Europeans gathered with the international community for the UN General Assembly in New York. A number of European nationals remain “arbitrarily” detained by Tehran.

A plane carrying the five former American prisoners landed at dawn on Tuesday at a military base near Washington, an official announced.

“Welcome home,” reacted Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, on -United. In other photos, we see the ex-detainees, all smiles, kissing their loved ones on the Fort Belvoir base in Virginia.

“It feels really good to be able to say that our fellow citizens are now free,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, once again justifying the agreement with Tehran, much criticized by the American Republican Party.

Democratic President Joe Biden had an “emotional” conversation with the families of former prisoners, the White House said.

The five Americans and two members of their family left Tehran Monday morning aboard a Qatari flight for Doha where they made a stopover before taking off for the United States.

A transfer of Iranian funds frozen in South Korea, amounting to six billion dollars, was also announced in Doha, Qatar having been one of the mediators of the agreement, and confirmed by Iran.

This transfer of money was part of the agreement, as was the release on Monday of five Iranian prisoners by the United States, which warned that it was not giving a "blank check" to the Iranian enemy with which the Diplomatic relations have been broken since 1980.

Among the five Americans of Iranian origin released were businessman Siamak Namazi, arrested in 2015 and sentenced to ten years in prison in 2016 for espionage, Morad Tahbaz, who also has British citizenship, and Emad Sharqi, an investor who was sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage.

The other two did not wish to be identified.

In the eyes of experts, this agreement would demonstrate a relative appeasement between Iran and the United States, even if it in no way prejudges a breakthrough on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Washington remains “unwavering in its commitment that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” Joe Biden recalled Tuesday before the UN General Assembly.

His Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raïssi responded Tuesday evening, also at the United Nations, that the United States should “put an end” to its sanctions regime against Tehran, reinforced after the failure of the 2015 international agreement on the nuclear program. civilian of the Islamic Republic.

This agreement was shattered in 2018 with the unilateral withdrawal by then US President Donald Trump.

Since then, “sanctions have not produced the desired results,” said Mr. Raïssi in a virulent speech against the West.

France, which supports the principle of an Iranian nuclear agreement and considers that four of its nationals are currently arbitrarily detained in Iran, has nevertheless warned against the risk of linking the two files.

“We must be careful and distinguish this issue from that of nuclear power,” underlined Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, present in New York.

“We are not naive,” added Charles Michel, President of the European Council. “We observe the brutal repression” in Iran and “the use of hostages by the authorities to put pressure on governments.”

“There will be progress made towards greater stability and security but we do not underestimate the level of tensions and difficulties,” he warned.

Moreover, after a meeting in New York between the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell and his Iranian counterpart Amir-Abdollahian, the EU indicated in a press release that it had “strongly condemned the arbitrary detentions by Iran of numerous European citizens , including dual nationality” and demanded their “liberation”.

Mr. Borrell also denounced the "very worrying human rights situation" in Iran, which he ordered to "cease its military cooperation with Russia" and to contribute to "finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue."

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20/09/2023 04:41:14 -         Washington (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP