Why Did the Obama Administration Send a Plane Full of Cash to Iran?

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The United States secretly arranged for an airplane filled with some $400 million of cash to be sent to Iran in January according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The timing of the airlift coincided with the release of four Americans who were being detained in Iran.

The cash — in euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies — was arranged on stacks of wooden pallets and flown into Iran aboard an unmarked cargo plane, according to the same officials. According to the Journal, “The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland.”

The Journal reports that:

“The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.”

The settlement was the resolution of an international tribunal in The Hague. Perhaps not coincidentally, it occurred during the same weekend of the formal implementation of the nuclear agreement that Iran reached with the U.S. and other global powers last year.

“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the time. However, he did not disclose that the $400 million in cash had been delivered to Tehran.

U.S. officials have denied any link between the payment and the release of prisoners. Instead, they claim that the timing was completely coincidental.

“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home…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,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Read the complete story by The Wall Street Journal here.

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