US Treasury paid entire $1.7 billion to Iran in cash

The United States Department of the Treasury has admitted the $1.3 billion in interest on a principle $400 million re-paid to Iran earlier this year was made in cash.

In the 19-day period following the initial re-payment of the original $400 million, the U.S. sent the additional $1.3 billion to settle a decades-old quarrel over an arms deal which was disrupted due to political upheaval in Iran and the seizure of American embassy employees in 1979.

The original $400 million, a bulk of which was paid in Swiss francs and euros, was part Iranian assets frozen in the United States after Washington broke diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Defending the action, Treasury spokesperson Dawn Selak said:

“The form of those principal and interest payments – made in non-U.S. currency, in cash – was necessitated by the effectiveness of US and international sanctions regimes over the last several years in isolating Iran from the international financial system,”

The series of payments to Iran came in harmony with the release of several American citizens held in Iranian jails.  The Obama Administration initially denied any link between the delivery of cash and the release of the captives; however, Mr. Obama later admitted the debt was used as leverage to obtain their release.

Congressional critics charge the payment was actually a ransom and have vowed to hold hearings.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a measure on Tuesday barring any further payments to Iran until Tehran returns the $1.7 billion to the U.S. and it is paid to victims of Iranian terrorism.

“President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. The US government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages,” Rubio said after introducing the bill.

Sen. Rubio is up for reelection in November and currently leads Democratic challenger, Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy, by mid-single digits according to the latest polls.

 

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