J Street Welcomes Return of Americans Held by Iran

September 18, 2023

We are overjoyed that five Americans who had been wrongly held by Iran have been released and are being reunited with their families. We applaud the Biden Administration for its tireless, skillful diplomacy that used Iran’s own foreign-sequestered sovereign funds to secure the return of these US citizens.

Under the terms of the exchange, not a single cent of US taxpayer money was given to Iran. Iran will only be able to use its released funds — to be held in a Qatari account — to make humanitarian purchases to meet the dire needs of the Iranian people who have suffered for far too long under the repressive regime. This deal therefore not only uses Iran’s own money to free our people, but prevents the regime from using these funds for purposes that threaten the interests of the United States and its allies.

With these Americans safely returning home, we are hopeful that further de-escalatory steps can be taken toward halting and rolling back a range of threatening actions by the Iranian regime. It is not a coincidence that the regime’s destabilizing moves that harm the security of the United States and our partners — from its nuclear activities, to its support for terrorism and supply of drones to Russia — have spiked after the Trump Administration broke the international agreement blocking Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon and replaced the deal with a failed “maximum pressure” campaign. As we have said since President Biden took office, his administration should move past his predecessor’s grave mistakes and restore the diplomatic approach supported by a strong majority of American voters in countering threats from Iran.