The media has been filled with allegations, speculations and numerous conjectures about the $400 million “cash” sent to Iran. Obama stated in an interview this past week, “the US does not pay ransom”. Given all his fabrications, prestidigitization, and reshaping of events to fit his own scenario as well as those in media willing to make sure his vision is cast long and loudly in furthering his goals, can we actually accept without question that this is the truth?
Here are some of the points as presented in mainstream media accounts, press releases and other sources. (Any italics or red print is mine)
January 16, 2016 – Executive Order — Revocation of Executive Orders 13574, 13590, 13622, and 13645 with Respect to Iran, Amendment of Executive Order 13628 with Respect to Iran, and Provision of Implementation Authorities for Aspects of Certain Statutory Sanctions
January 16, 2016 5:12pm est – Time Magazine: “Iran Releases Washington Post Journalist and 4 Other Americans”
January 17, 2016 – Hague Claims Tribunal Settlement, Press Statement from John Kerry,
“The United States and Iran today have settled a long outstanding claim at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in the Hague.”
This specific claim was in the amount of a $400 million Trust Fund used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States prior to the break in diplomatic ties. In 1981, with the reaching of the Algiers Accords and the creation of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, Iran filed a claim for these funds, tying them up in litigation at the Tribunal.
This is the latest of a series of important settlements reached over the past 35 years at the Hague Tribunal. In constructive bilateral discussions, we arrived at a fair settlement to this claim, which due to litigation risk, remains in the best interests of the United States.
Iran will receive the balance of $400 million in the Trust Fund, as well as a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest. Iran’s recovery was fixed at a reasonable rate of interest and therefore Iran is unable to pursue a bigger Tribunal award against us, preventing U.S. taxpayers from being obligated to a larger amount of money.
January 17, 2016 12:27am est – Associated Press: “The Latest: Work proceeds to get freed Americans out of Iran”
“…Ban Ki-moon says the U.N. nuclear agency’s certification Saturday that Iran has met all of its commitments …Secretary of State John Kerry said the Americans had been released from Iranian custody. Now it’s a matter of handling their logistics before they leave. As part of the breakthrough exchange, the U.S. will free seven Iranians from American custody…President Barack Obama has signed executive orders lifting economic sanctions on Iran…U.S. officials say a fifth American detained in Iran, a student, has been released in a move unrelated to a prisoner swap earlier between the two countries…Zarif called for greater cooperation to fight the “terrorism and extremism” that has engulfed the Middle East. His comments were broadcast on state TV.”
January 17, 2016 11:03am est – White House Press Release: “ Statement by the President on Iran”
“…Now that Iran’s actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen… On the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans. I did so myself, in my conversation with President Rouhani…I want to thank the Swiss government, which represents our interests in Iran, for their critical assistance…The third piece of this work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades…Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought.
January 17, 2016 11:46pm est – CNN: “Americans in Iran prisoner swap arrive in Germany”
January 17, 2016 – Yahoo News: US to pay Iran $1.7 bn in debt and interest: Kerry
“Washington (AFP) – The United States is to repay Iran a $400 million debt and $1.3 billion in interest dating to the Islamic revolution, Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday. The repayment, which settles a suit brought under an international legal tribunal, is separate from the tens of billions of dollars in frozen foreign accounts that Iran can now access after the end of nuclear sanctions. Kerry said the claim was in the amount of a $400 million trust fund used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States prior to the break in diplomatic ties, plus $1.3 billion in interests…Kerry, in defending the agreement, said that “Iran’s recovery was fixed at a reasonable rate of interest and therefore Iran is unable to pursue a bigger tribunal award against us, preventing US taxpayers from being obligated to a larger amount of money. He went on to say all of the US claims against Iran at the tribunal had long been settled and had netted American companies and individuals $2.5 billion. (Say what? Isn’t this still in the air since Obama has not provided those funds to families and corporations from frozen assets?) But Kerry added there are more Iranian claims pending and that the United States would try to negotiate to resolve them.” (Someone explain why we should add any more funds given how much we have already dumped in the region thanks to Clinton/Obama equipment and arms shuffles.)
August 2, 2016 – MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal: $400 million sent to Iran as U.S. prisoners released, raising questions
“The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward…Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said. “With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17 — without disclosing the $400 million cash payment. Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo... State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.” But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible. Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months. (In other words the cabinet in Iran does not let others in the region know that the cash handed over at the prisoner exchange is NOT involved with ransom so now they feel emboldened to continue in a practice which they have utilized for many centuries.)
August 4, 2016 – BloombergPolitics: Obama Says $400 Million Cash Payment to Iran Wasn’t Ransom
“…The only bit of news that is relevant on this is the fact that we paid cash,” Obama said. Restrictions on U.S. banking relationships with Iran mean “we could not send them a check, and we could not wire them the money…”
August 4, 2016 – Reuters: Obama administration denies Iran cash payment was a ransom
“…there have long been questions about the timing of the payment, one Iranian concern was that the Obama administration could face too much domestic political criticism if it delayed acting on the tribunal’s decision…One U.S. official said the $1.3 billion in interest was paid to Iran through the U.S. Treasury-administered Judgment Fund, which is used to pay awards against the United States… (Actually, this does make a bit more sense. Iran is not a fool. They wanted a partial payment in good faith especially before Obama left office.)
August 9, 2016 – CNN: Iran’s ex-president writes Obama urging return of assets”
“…Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president from 2005-2013, demanded in a letter that Obama overturn an April US Supreme Court ruling that allowed the seizure of $2 billion worth of Iranian assets to compensate victims of a 1983 terror attack.”
Is it a case of misperception? Obfuscation? Timing? Illegal action?
From the first, I can see that an executive order and a news report are released prior to the finalization of the actual information. What’s with that? I can understand how an executive order might be ready for release but Not before the agreed upon subject finalization. That’s counting chickens before the eggs are hatched.
How was the Times Magazine able to list before the final names of prisoners had been agreed upon enough to successfully write an article on January 16th based on information that supposedly did not get completed until January 17th? How in the world did two separate groups of individuals such as implied manage to randomly accomplish two extremely contentious unrelated negotiations at the same time and day?
Obama and Kerry DID announce by press release and media that there was an agreement on the principle and interest owed on a trust account. They neglected however to make clear an alternate method of payment needed to be provided.
Why would Kirby and US officials think Iran wanted to see physical evidence of cash during a prisoner exchange that had nothing to do with ransom payment?
IF that $1.3 billion was submitted to Iran then how, when, where? Did it also get paid in cash just this time not as a prisoner exchange muddied the waters?
I wonder what is going on behind the scenes over that Ahmadinejad letter. He stuck his nose into something that the current government had already bargained on. However, I have no doubt that the he is dangerous enough to reestablish leadership then where would all of these negotiations be?
So perhaps it is a bit of all — misperception, obfuscation, timing, and illegal action. Whatever the final answer, the whole agreement stinks worse than skunk spray. The only part that I might feel reasonable about is that supposedly the $400 million and interest settled at least one beef between US and Iran. It does not make any of this acceptable. I am sure that more than that amount in war equipment, guns, and building materials have found their way into Iranian hands. Let’s not forget that we also provided training for Iranian troops. We also have NO clear understanding of just how much our country has poured into the area since 2001. We can only speculate it to be in the trillion range.