by WorldTribune Staff, August 3, 2016
The Obama administration airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran just as the Islamic republic was freeing four American hostages, a report said.
Wooden pallets stacked with Euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currencies were transported to Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, the Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 2, citing U.S. and European officials.
A report by Iran’s Tasnim news agency, which has close ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the cash arrived at Mehrabad airport on the same day (Jan. 17) the Americans left the country.
The cash delivery, was the first installment paid in a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a failed 1979 arms deal dating from just before the Iranian Revolution.
Senior U.S. officials denied the payment was a ransom for the release of the prisoners, saying the timing was coincidental.
“We just don’t pay ransom. … This was not ransom,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby told Fox News on Aug. 3. “It was their money. It made no sense for us to continue to drag out their claim.”
The Journal report, however, noted that U.S. officials acknowledged that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had “gained something tangible. “
The Journal also reported that President Barack Obama did not disclose the $400 million cash payment to Iran when he announced on Jan. 17 that the arms deal dispute had been resolved. The administration has not disclosed how the $1.7 billion was paid, except to say it was not paid in dollars. U.S. law forbids transacting American dollars with Iran.
“The logistics of this payment – literally delivering a plane full of cash to evade U.S. law – shows yet again the extraordinary lengths the Obama administration will go to accommodate Iran, all while hiding the facts from Congress and the American people,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, said in a statement.
“Hundreds of millions in the pockets of a terrorist regime means a more dangerous region, period. And paying ransom only puts more American lives in jeopardy.”
Since the cash was airlifted, the IRGC has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Teheran also has detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the UK in recent months.
“Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk,” Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, said in a statement. “While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages.”