Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Washington Paid Tehran a ‘Secretive’ $1.3 Billion after Prisoners Release - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Washington- At a time the Obama administration faces heated criticism on paying $400 million in cash to Tehran to release the U.S. captives earlier January, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said that a dashing $1.3 billion was wired to Iran secretly.

Dodging questions of the press, Trudeau said on Wednesday that the U.S. couldn’t say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. But confirmed the $1.3 billion flew into Tehran, 48 hours post the first $400 million.

Trudeau asked the press to refer to the Treasury Department responsible for foreign transactions, giving no further details.

The outflow involved 13 separate payments and final payment of about $10 million. There was no explanation for the Treasury Department keeping the individual transactions under $100 million.

The money settles a dispute over a $400 million payment made in the 1970s by the U.S.-backed shah’s government for military equipment. The equipment was never delivered because of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah and ended diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran, wrote the Associated Press.

On Jan. 17, the administration paid Iran the account’s $400 million principal in pallets of euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency, raising questions about the unusual payment. The $1.3 billion covers what Iran and the U.S. agreed would be the interest on the $400 million over the decades.

The deal has faced increased scrutiny since the administration’s acknowledgment this month that it used the money as leverage to ensure the release of four American prisoners.

Trudeau’s announcement concurred with Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi announcing Iran receiving a sweeping $1.3 billion only days after the first $400 million from Washington.

Alavi revealed that discussions between the two countries on the prisoners’ release were held after receiving a green light from the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei along with an associated Supreme National Security Council decree.

Speaking to an interviewer, Alavi said that Tehran has accomplished great benefits from held negotiations, referring to the $400 million and the additional $3 billion and $310 million.