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U.S. reaches "quiet understanding" with Qatar not to release $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues

The U.S. has reached a "quiet understanding" with Qatar not to release any of the $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues that was unfrozen as part of the prisoner swap last month, a source with knowledge of the arrangement told CBS News.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo informed House Democrats of that understanding in a closed-door meeting Thursday morning.

As part of the high-stakes deal to release five Americans who had been wrongfully detained in Iran, the Biden administration included the transfer of the Iranian oil assets from a restricted account in South Korea to Qatar.

Many Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for releasing the funds, claiming it freed up resources for Iran to support the attack. Administration officials have said since the attacks began that Iran has long supported Hamas with material, financial and logistical support, but to date, no evidence has been found to link the surprise attacks to Tehran. 

The Biden administration has said that the money would not be given directly to Iran and that it could only be used to fund Iran's purchases of humanitarian goods, such as food and medicine, though Iran's president has said he would decide how to spend the previously frozen funds.

In his closed-door meeting with the House Democrats, Adeyemo said the $6 billion "isn't going anywhere anytime soon." His comments were first reported by Punchbowl News.

The timing of the understanding that was reached was not disclosed by the source, so it is not known whether this transpired after Hamas attacked Israel over the weekend.

But even before this understanding, the mechanism for Iran to access the funds was heavily scrutinized and quite complicated. Iran was unlikely to be able to get to the funds quickly, even for legitimate humanitarian efforts.

In a briefing with reporters on Thursday afternoon, White House national security spokesman John Kirby insisted that "the regime was never going to see a dime of that money."

Caitlin Yilek and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.

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