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Was the $400M Federal Airlift to Iran a Ransom Payment?
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John kerry iran

Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iran’s Javad Zarif. Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Summary: In January, the U.S. government airlifted $400 million to Iran around the same time four American hostages were released.

This January, the federal government airlifted $400 million to Iran. The Wall Street Journal broke the news this week that the money was transferred around the same time that four American detainees were released.

  
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John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said that the money was not to release the hostages, who included a Washington Post reporter, a former U.S. Marine, and a Christian pastor. Instead, he said the money was the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement to resolve a 1979 arms deal.

“The negotiations over the [arms deal] settlement … were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side.”

While the government’s official statement claims paying a settlement, not ransom, Republican Senator Mark Kirk wasn’t buying that explanation.

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“Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk,” Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said to Fox News. “While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages.”

Kirk and other prominent GOP leaders like Paul Ryan expressed that they believed the money exchange was a ransom payment.



President Barack Obama said in January that the settlement could save the U.S. billions.

“For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran. So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out. With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” Obama said.

White House spokesman John Earnest said that they conducted an analysis and concluded Iran would most likely not use the money to fund terrorist groups.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the cash flown to Iran consisted of different currencies, but no dollars as federal law prohibits American dollar transactions with Iran.

The location of where the money was received in Iran was not announced.

What do you think of this payment to Iran? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Fox News, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal



 

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