President Barack Obama approved the $400 million transfer, which he had announced in January as part of the Iran nuclear deal. The money was flown into Iran on wooden pallets stacked with Swiss francs, euros and other currencies as the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement resolving claims at an international tribunal at The Hague over a failed arms deal under the time of the Shah.
A fifth American man was released by Iran separately.
Details of the cash delivery drew fresh condemnation of the Iran deal from Republicans. They charged that the administration had empowered a major sponsor of terrorism because the nuclear agreement enables Tehran to re-enter the international economy and gives it access long-frozen funds.
In addition, they said the cash delivery amounted to a ransom payment that violates long-standing US practice not to pay for hostages. As such, they argued, it encourages Iran to hold onto its remaining Americans prisoners until they can get more money for them.
“Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk,” said Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. “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, including Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer Namazi and Reza Shahini.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump jumped on the issue, seeking to change the subject after a punishing week of gaffes and reproaches from members of the GOP.
“Iran was in big trouble, they had sanctions, they were dying, we took off the sanctions and made this horrible deal and now they’re a power,” Trump said Wednesday in Daytona, Florida.
“We paid $400 million for the hostages,” Trump said. “Such a bad precedent was set by Obama. We have two more hostages there right? What’s are we going to pay for them? What we’re doing is insane.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, when asked about the payment by a local Denver, Colorado, television station, said it was “old news.”
“It was first reported about seven or eight months ago, as I recall,” she told Denver’s 9News
. “And, so far as I know, it had nothing to do with any kind of hostage swap or any other tit-for-tat. It was something that was intended to, as I am told, pay back Iran for contracts that were canceled when the Shah fell.”
US officials said cash had to be flown in because existing US sanctions ban American dollars from being used in a transaction with Iran and because Iran could not access the global financial system due to international sanctions it was under at the time. The details of the how the transaction occurred were first reported by The Wall Street Journal
. CNN reported in January
that the transfer of funds had been arrangement.
The money was procured from