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According to recent news reports, the Obama administration may have far more to answer for with respect to the $1.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer cash it has paid to Iran.
The Wall Street Journal reports that after the U.S. first sent Iran equivalent of $400 million in foreign currency, loaded on wooden pallets in an unmarked cargo plane, the Obama adminstration sent another $1.3 billion in cash on two additional flights, which accounts for the money that it had withdrawn in $9,999,999.99 increments.
The Obama administration followed up a planeload of $400 million in cash sent to Iran in January with two more such shipments in the next 19 days, totaling another $1.3 billion, according to congressional officials briefed by the U.S. State, Treasury and Justice departments.
The cash payments—made in Swiss francs, euros and other currencies—settled a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal dating back to 1979. U.S. officials have acknowledged the payment of the first $400 million coincided with Iran’s release of American prisoners and was used as leverage to ensure they were flown out of Tehran’s Mehrabad on the morning of Jan. 17….
The $400 million was converted into non-U.S. currencies by the Swiss and Dutch central banks, according to U.S. and European officials.
The Treasury Department confirmed late Tuesday that the subsequent payments were also made in cash.
“The form of those principal and interest payments—made in non-U.S. currency, in cash—was necessitated by the effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions regimes over the last several years in isolating Iran from the international financial system,” Treasury spokeswoman Dawn Selak said.
Since being paid by the Obama administration, Iran’s leaders appear to have embarked on an increasingly confrontational strategy in the Persian Gulf, where their behavior has been described as “worsening” rather than improving, with the threat of costly military conflict increasing as a direct result of the Obama administration’s payments.
On June 3, 2016, two full months before what would become the story of the Obama administration’s $1.7 billion in cash payments to Iran began to break, Saeed Ghasseminejad of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies reported that Iran’s leaders would entirely direct a “financial settlement” totaling $1.7 billion it had reached back in January 2016 to Iran’s military.
Of the $19 billion, $11.3 billion is earmarked explicitly for the armed forces’ annual budgets. In addition, Parliament allowed the government to allocate $5 billion to “military projects,” to be chosen at the discretion of the military apparatus. The budget also allows the military to raise $1 billion through fees for Iranians who buy their way out of military service. Finally, it lets the government give the military $1.7 billion from a financial settlement reached in January.
That $1.7 billion financial settlement certainly lines up with the Obama administration’s payments to Iran in exchange for the American hostages it held in January 2016. Payments made entirely in cash loaded on wood pallets and delivered to Tehran in unmarked cargo planes.
Whenever bad behavior is rewarded, more bad behavior soon follows. The Obama administration’s cash payments of $1.7 billion to Iran may very well be a classic case study in that basic tenet of both human psychology and international diplomacy, not to mention being the answer to the question of what happened to all that cash after it was delivered to Iran.