Exclusive Interview: Iran and the Ransom Conundrum

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – MAY 03: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Visits The Holy Shrine Of Hazrat Zeinab, On May 03, 2023 in Damascus, Syria. (Photo by Borna News/Matin Ghasemi/Aksonline ATPImages/Getty Images)

By Norman T. Roule, Former National Intelligence Manager, Iran, ODNI

Roule is a geopolitical and energy consultant who served for 34 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East. As NIM-I, he was responsible for all aspects of national intelligence policy related to Iran, including IC engagement with senior policymakers in the National Security Council and the Department of State.

SUBSCRIBER+EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Hostage negotiations are one of the most difficult political issues for a U.S. administration to deal with, particularly in light of a U.S. policy not to negotiate with terrorists or to pay ransom. So, when news broke that the Biden Administration has been quietly talking with Tehran to negotiate the release of five Americans in exchange for five jailed Iranians – and that the deal would include unfreezing funds worth close to $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue, political daggers were drawn.

The release of the hostages would obviously be good news for the hostages and their families, but the deal is drawing political criticism for the multi-billion-dollar financial relief it would bring Tehran, already under blistering U.S. sanctions primarily for its role in the killing of Americans overseas and the development of its nuclear program.

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