Amid reports of a prisoner swap and a release of $7 billion in frozen Iranian assets, US officials and US senators are in the Middle East this week hoping to calm concerns over President Joe Biden’s intentions to reenter the failed 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
On Sunday, US officials in Washington denied reports by Iranian state television that a deal had been reached for the countries to swap four prisoners each, in addition to lifting US sanctions keeping $7 billion in oil money frozen in other nations.
“Reports that a prisoner swap deal has been reached are not true,” Ned Price, US Department spokesman, said, echoing remarks made by White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. “There is no agreement to release these four Americans (accused of spying by Tehran).”
World powers, including China and Russia, have been at the negotiating table in Vienna since April working on getting America back into the 2015 deal. However, Iran claims to already be near weapons-grade uranium enrichment, well above the levels set in the original agreement.
Tensions in the Middle East are rising as the shadow war between Israel and Iran’s proxies heats up on land and sea.
Senator Chris Coons, D-Delaware, met with officials in Abu Dhabi to discuss concerns over Iran’s rapid progress toward obtaining a viable nuclear weapon. Coons called on the United Arab Emirates to assist in the ongoing talks in Vienna.
Senator Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, is also on a diplomatic mission this week, traveling to Jordan, Oman, and Qatar in search of a solution to end Iran’s proxy war in Yemen.
In addition, high-level Biden security officials toured Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Amman, and Cairo hoping to strengthen “long-standing political, economic, cultural, and security ties” with these vital Arab nations.