The United States can freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds released in a prisoner swap deal into Qatari accounts if needed, according to the State Department.

In August, the United States agreed to unblock $6 billion of Iran’s money frozen in South Korea for the release of five US dual nationals held hostage by Tehran, insisting that the agreement restricts the funds to purchases of food and medicine.

However, the State Department’s statement came after Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi told NBC News that the money will be spent on whatever the Iranian people need.

"This money will be budgeted for those needs and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government," Raisi said.

Although some Iranian officials have acknowledged that the funds can be spent only for “non-sanctionable” goods, the foreign ministry insisted early on that Iran can do whatever it wanted with the released money.

"The Treasury Department has strict oversight over the use of those funds. We have visibility into how they are used, and we have the ability to police their use," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters, adding that the criterion is that the funds be spent for humanitarian purposes.

The funds are currently being transferred from South Korea to Qatar via Switzerland and the hostages will be allowed to leave when all the money is deposited in a special Iranian account in Qatar.

There has been strong criticism of the Biden administration’s move in Congress. Many Republicans have accused the White House of caving in to Iran and by offering a large ransom endangering the lives of other Americans.

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