Pres. Biden vows to ‘impose costs on Iran’ after prisoner swap

US citizens Siamak Namazi (C), Emad Sharqi (L behind) and Morad Tahbaz (C-R) disembark from a Qatari jet upon their arrival at the Doha International Airport in Doha on September 18, 2023. Five US detainees, three previously identified as Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Sharqi and two who wish to remain anonymous, released by Iran landed in Doha in a prisoner swap on September 18 after $6 billion in frozen funds were transferred to Iranian accounts in Qatar. (Photo by Karim JAAFAR / AFP)

NEW YORK, Sept 18, 2023 (AFP) – President Joe Biden said the United States would keep piling “costs” on Iran despite a prisoner swap deal that freed five Americans on Monday.

Biden confirmed that he was imposing new sanctions on Iran’s intelligence ministry and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for their involvement in “wrongful detentions.”

“Today, five innocent Americans who were imprisoned in Iran are finally coming home,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden said that “as we celebrate the return of these Americans, we also remember those who did not return,” including Bob Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran and is presumed dead.

“We will continue to impose costs on Iran for their provocative actions in the region,” Biden said.

His statement did not mention the granting of clemency to five Iranians jailed or awaiting trial for non-violent crimes, which a US official announced earlier.

Biden has faced severe criticism from his Republican opponents over the deal, which came to fruition after the release of $6 billion in Iranian funds long frozen by US ally South Korea.

He thanked the governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland and South Korea for their “tireless efforts” to make the deal happen.