Money is fungible and this arrangement will reduce strains on the Iranian budget and free up additional resources to spend on repression and terrorism. Iran’s militias in Syria have already received a raise due to the lax enforcement of US sanctions, which continues amid reports of a broader nuclear understanding with Tehran. The Iranian government is witnessing once again that it pays to take US nationals hostage.

Iran has a hostage-taking model. It’s long overdue that the US build a policy around it.