Iran has not accessed $6 billion released in prisoner swap, White House says

The Iranian government has not accessed any of the $6 billion in funds released under its prisoner exchange deal with the U.S., the White House said Thursday. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made the assertion to reporters during a Thursday press briefing, but he stopped short of saying that there was a formal pause on the funds. Reporters repeatedly pressed Kirby to clarify whether the U.S. has revoked Iran’s access to the funds, or merely that Iran had yet to access them. He later responded that he is not willing to talk about any changes to policy regarding the funds that may have taken place “within the past 24 hours.” The $6 billion, which belongs to Iran, had been unfrozen from South Korean banks as part of a prisoner exchange deal in August. Under the deal, Qatari banks were to hold the funds and only grant Iran access for humanitarian purposes. LIVE UPDATES: ISRAEL AT WAR WITH HAMAS Critics argued that the funds would free up Iran’s cash elsewhere to use for terrorism, such as Hamas’ Saturday attack on Israel. Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich also pressed Kirby regarding American citizens stuck in Israel. Heinrich asked why the U.S. has essentially told Americans to “find their own way” when other countries have operated more formal evacuations out of Israel. STUDENTS HIDE IDENTITIES WITH MASKS WHILE PRAISING HAMAS’ MASSACRE OF ISRAELIS “Americans and dual passport holders live all over the world, and sometimes they choose to live in places where more bad things happen. You know, we’re not we’re not in a position of lecturing to Americans where they can go live, work or travel, recreate,” Kirby responded. “Other nations have smaller populations, and maybe they have, you know, they have to make their own decisions about how they’re going to handle those smaller populations. We also have to be respectful of the needs and the desires of Americans who live there. We know that some want to leave. We also know that a lot of them want to stay at home. They don’t want to go. And we have to respect that as well,” he continued. BLINKEN, IN ISRAEL, SAYS MORE AMERICANS KILLED, VOWS SOLIDARITY ‘ALWAYS’ Heinrich also pressed Kirby on whether the U.S. was taking any actions to increase homeland security following the attack. Extremist groups have released messaging declaring Friday to be a “Day of Jihad.” “On the day of Jihad, are we doing anything to fortify the U.S. against any potential activity against Americans domestically or abroad, given the calls for a day of jihad?” Heinrich asked. “We’re focused on making sure that our intelligence sharing with the Israelis is as sharp and as good as possible for the operations that they are in. I saw some reporting that made it sound like I blew it off. That is not the case,” Kirby responded. “We are constantly in touch with local law enforcement, state and state and federal officials across the country to make sure that we as vigilant as we can be, to be able to identify and disrupt any threats to the American people. We’re absolutely going to stay focused on it,” he added. This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates.
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