Report: Obama’s cash payment to Iran was illegal

by WorldTribune Staff, August 7, 2016

U.S. policy has always strictly prohibited the payment of a ransom to terrorists who take hostages as such a precedent encourages more terrorism.

However, anti-terrorism sanctions prohibit the United States from “U.S. dollar- or other-currency denominated transactions” with Iran, a report said, meaning the Obama administration’s shipment of $400 million in cash to the Islamic Republic was illegal.

President Obama denies $400M payment to Iran was ransom.
President Barack Obama denies $400 million payment to Iran was ransom.

The cash, converted into foreign denominations, was sent to Iran in an unmarked cargo plane the same day in January that four U.S. hostages were released.

According to a report by National Review, “Congress pressed Obama to maintain and enforce anti-terrorism sanctions, which the administration repeatedly committed to do.

“This commitment was reaffirmed by Obama’s Treasury Department on January 16, 2016, the ‘Implementation Day’ of the JCPOA (nuclear deal with Iran). Treasury’s published guidance regarding Iran states that, in general, ‘the clearing of U.S. dollar- or other currency-denominated transactions through the U.S. financial system or involving a U.S. person remain prohibited[.]’ ”

“Treasury’s guidance cites to what’s known as the ITSR (Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations), the part of the Code of Federal Regulations that implements anti-terrorism sanctions initiated by President Clinton under federal law. The specific provision cited is Section 560.204, which states: The exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, technology, or services to Iran or the Government of Iran is prohibited.”

The regulation continues that this prohibition may not be circumvented by exporting things of value “to a person in a third country” when one has “knowledge or reason to know that” such things are “intended specifically for supply, transshipment, or re-exportation, directly or indirectly, to Iran or the Government of Iran.”

One of the hostages has reported that he and the three other captives were detained for several hours at the airport in Iran and told they would not be allowed to leave until the arrival of another plane — inferentially, the unmarked cargo plane with the $400 million.

“The reason American policy has always prohibited paying ransoms to terrorists and other abductors is that it only encourages them to take more hostages. And, as night follows day, Iran has abducted more Americans since Obama paid the cash,” National Review noted.