New questions emerge on several billions paid out to Iran by Obama admin
Iran may have received an additional $33.6 billion in secret cash and gold payments facilitated by the Obama administration between 2014 and 2016, according to testimony provided before Congress by an expert on last summer’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
Between January 2014 and July 2015, when the Obama administration was hammering out the final details of the nuclear accord, Iran was paid $700 million every month from funds that had previously been frozen by U.S. sanctions.
A total of $11.9 billion was ultimately paid to Iran, but the details surrounding these payments remain shrouded in mystery, according to Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
In total, “Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals,” Dubowitz disclosed.
New questions about these payments are emerging following confirmation from top Obama administration officials on Thursday that it was forced to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash prior to the release of several U.S. hostages earlier this year. The administration insisted that cash had to be used for this payment.
Top administration officials were adamant that the cash payments were the best way to ensure that Iran got immediate access to this money due to its ongoing difficulty accessing international funds still sanctioned by the West.
Lawmakers and others are now pressing the administration to disclose how a slew of other payments to Iran were made in the years leading up to the final nuclear accord.
At least some of this money was likely sent in cash and other assets, according to Dubowitz.
The Obama administration was forced to disclose on Thursday that current sanctions and banking restrictions prohibited it from transferring funds to Iran via electronic methods.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and expert on rogue regimes, said that cash payments of this nature are “highly irregular.”
“There’s no reason it needed to be paid now. After all, successive administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have delayed payments so as to avoid funding Iranian terrorism,” Rubin said. “Likewise, if the United States freezes accounts linked to al Qaeda or Hamas, releasing it and saying, ‘It’s their money anyway,’ would not be a tenable explanation. Cash payments are highly irregular.”
The Iranians have been clear that they “perceived the payment to be a ransom” despite the administration’s protestations, Rubin explained.
“Not only has the delivery of the millions of dollars been perceived as a ransom, provided as an incentive to seize more hostages …. but because the money was delivered in cash the payment bolstered the strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and augmented its ability to finance and conduct terrorism,” he said.
Full article: Iran May Have Received as Much as $33.6 Billion in Cash, Gold Payments From U.S. (Washington Free Beacon)