Paid exactly the same way as the $400 million from the prisoner transfer.
Back in August, the Obama administration would not tell Congress how the U.S. paid $1.3 billion to Iran. The lawmakers asked questions after they learned that the administration paid $400 million as Iran released four American hostages.
Well, on Tuesday, the administration finally told the lawmakers about the $1.3 billion. Officials transferred the money “through Europe on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5” the exact same way they sent the $400 million. Iran picked it up in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
The $400 million was converted into non-U.S. currencies by the Swiss and Dutch central banks, according to U.S. and European officials.
The Treasury Department confirmed late Tuesday that the subsequent payments were also made in cash.
“The form of those principal and interest payments—made in non-U.S. currency, in cash—was necessitated by the effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions regimes over the last several years in isolating Iran from the international financial system,” Treasury spokeswoman Dawn Selak said.
The administration reached a “$1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.”
The officials also stated that “they believed the U.S. was set to lose the court proceedings in The Hague and would end up being liable for as much as $10 billion because of accrued interest.”
CIA Director John Brennan insists Iran has used the money “for development projects” like supporting its own currency, providing “moneys to departments and agencies, build up its infrastructure.” Republican lawmakers do not buy it.
Sen. Mark Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill on Tuesday that “would block the Treasury Department from making any payments to Iran until Tehran returns the $1.7 billion to the U.S. and pays the American terrorism victims.”
Officials also tried to play off the $400 million payment and release of hostages as a coincidence, but the State Department confirmed they used the money as leverage:
State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked at Thursday’s press briefing: “In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?”
“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.
“We deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously,” he said. “With concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release, given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located as well as, to be quite honest, mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released. That was our top priority.”
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