WSJ: Entire $1.7-billion ransom paid to Iran in cash
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that members of Congress were briefed by the Obama administration on how the rest of the $1.7-billion ransom payment to Iran was accomplished.
The transfer took place in late January, with $400 million in cash being flown from Geneva to Tehran, after which several Americans held in Iranian prisons were released. Yesterday, after months of demands from Congress for information on how the remaining $1.3 billion was transferred to Iran, the administration came clean and admitted that the entire amount was paid in cash.
The Obama administration previously had refused to disclose the mechanics of the $1.7 billion settlement, despite repeated calls from U.S. lawmakers. The State Department announced the settlement on Jan. 17 but didn’t brief Congress that the entire amount had been paid in cash.
U.S. lawmakers have voiced concern that Iran’s military units, particularly the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, would use the cash to finance military allies in the Middle East, including the Assad regime in Syria, Houthi militias in Yemen, and the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah.
Sanctions impair Tehran’s ability to receive payments using the international banking system.
The settlement resulted from a legal arbitration under way in the Netherlands since the early 1980s between the U.S. and Iran. At issue was a $400 million payment Tehran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, made to a Pentagon trust fund just months before his government was toppled. The money was earmarked for airplane parts that were never delivered.
Obama administration officials have said 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. Republican lawmakers have argued the initial $400 million shouldn’t be repaid to Iran and instead should have been used to compensate the victims of Iranian-backed terrorism.
The bill introduced by congressional Republicans on Tuesday 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. Three dual U.S.-Iranian citizens are still being held in Iran.
“The U.S. government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages,” Mr. Rubio said.
That cash – untraceable and easily transported – is going to kill a lot of innocent people. It's expected that Iran will spread that cash among its surrogates like the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezb'allah, the Lebanese terrorist group fighting with Russia in Syria to bolster the Assad regime.
The Iranians, already the world's #1 supporter of terrorism, just got a financial shot in the arm that will truly make them the bankers of choice for terrorists.