Obama administration backed lifting sanctions on Iranian banks as part of hostage ransom

The Wall Street Journal has a shocking report that adds fuel to the fire over the $1.7 billion in cash paid to the Iranians to get the hostages released.

On the same day the cash payment arrived in Tehran, the U.S. secretly agreed to back a U.N. effort to lift sanctions on two Iranian banks accused of assisting Iran's ballistic missile program. 

The Obama administration agreed to back the lifting of United Nations sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran’s ballistic-missile program on the same day in January that Tehran released four American citizens from prison, according to U.S. officials and congressional staff briefed on the deliberations.

The U.N. sanctions on the two banks weren’t initially to be lifted until 2023, under a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers that went into effect on Jan. 16.

Just how much of this nuclear agreement with Iran was real?  We learned after the deal went into effect that restrictions on Iran's centrifuge technology were a sham and that despite assurances from the White House, the deal did not prevent Iran from testing its ballistic missiles (separate U.N. resolutions were supposed to restrict the missile program). 

The U.N. Security Council’s delisting of the two banks, Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, was part of a package of tightly scripted agreements—the others were a controversial prisoner swap and transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran—that were finalized between the U.S. and Iran on Jan. 17, the day the Americans were freed.

The new details of the delisting have emerged after administration officials briefed lawmakers earlier this month on the U.S. decision.

According to senior U.S. officials, a senior State Department official, Brett McGurk, and a representative of the Iranian government signed three documents in Geneva on the morning of Jan. 17.

One document committed the U.S. to dropping criminal charges against 21 Iranian nationals, and Tehran to releasing the Americans imprisoned in Iran.

Another committed the U.S. to immediately transfer $400 million in cash to the Iranian regime and arrange the delivery within weeks of two subsequent cash payments totaling $1.3 billion to settle a decades-old legal dispute over a failed arms deal.

The U.S. agreed in a third document to support the immediate delisting of the two Iranian banks, according to senior U.S. officials. In the hours after the documents were signed at a Swiss hotel, the different elements of the agreement went forward: The Americans were released, Iran took possession of the $400 million in cash, and the U.N. Security Council removed sanctions on Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, these officials said.

“Lifting the sanctions on Sepah was part of the package,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the deliberations. “The timing of all this isn’t coincidental. Everything was linked to some degree.”

What else did we give the Iranians to get our people back?  So far, we've discovered we gave the Iranians billions in cash, freedom for Iranian criminals, and now the lifting of sanctions on banks that were supposed to be in place until 2023 per the nuclear deal. 

As I've said previously, I really hope the president goes into used car sales when he leaves the White House.  I would love to negotiate a purchase with this guy.  I'd probably walk off the lot with not only a great car, but a cash payment in my pocket for my trouble.

The Wall Street Journal has a shocking report that adds fuel to the fire over the $1.7 billion in cash paid to the Iranians to get the hostages released.

On the same day the cash payment arrived in Tehran, the U.S. secretly agreed to back a U.N. effort to lift sanctions on two Iranian banks accused of assisting Iran's ballistic missile program. 

The Obama administration agreed to back the lifting of United Nations sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran’s ballistic-missile program on the same day in January that Tehran released four American citizens from prison, according to U.S. officials and congressional staff briefed on the deliberations.

The U.N. sanctions on the two banks weren’t initially to be lifted until 2023, under a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers that went into effect on Jan. 16.

Just how much of this nuclear agreement with Iran was real?  We learned after the deal went into effect that restrictions on Iran's centrifuge technology were a sham and that despite assurances from the White House, the deal did not prevent Iran from testing its ballistic missiles (separate U.N. resolutions were supposed to restrict the missile program). 

The U.N. Security Council’s delisting of the two banks, Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, was part of a package of tightly scripted agreements—the others were a controversial prisoner swap and transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran—that were finalized between the U.S. and Iran on Jan. 17, the day the Americans were freed.

The new details of the delisting have emerged after administration officials briefed lawmakers earlier this month on the U.S. decision.

According to senior U.S. officials, a senior State Department official, Brett McGurk, and a representative of the Iranian government signed three documents in Geneva on the morning of Jan. 17.

One document committed the U.S. to dropping criminal charges against 21 Iranian nationals, and Tehran to releasing the Americans imprisoned in Iran.

Another committed the U.S. to immediately transfer $400 million in cash to the Iranian regime and arrange the delivery within weeks of two subsequent cash payments totaling $1.3 billion to settle a decades-old legal dispute over a failed arms deal.

The U.S. agreed in a third document to support the immediate delisting of the two Iranian banks, according to senior U.S. officials. In the hours after the documents were signed at a Swiss hotel, the different elements of the agreement went forward: The Americans were released, Iran took possession of the $400 million in cash, and the U.N. Security Council removed sanctions on Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, these officials said.

“Lifting the sanctions on Sepah was part of the package,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the deliberations. “The timing of all this isn’t coincidental. Everything was linked to some degree.”

What else did we give the Iranians to get our people back?  So far, we've discovered we gave the Iranians billions in cash, freedom for Iranian criminals, and now the lifting of sanctions on banks that were supposed to be in place until 2023 per the nuclear deal. 

As I've said previously, I really hope the president goes into used car sales when he leaves the White House.  I would love to negotiate a purchase with this guy.  I'd probably walk off the lot with not only a great car, but a cash payment in my pocket for my trouble.