President Obama‘s press conference Thursday was supposed to focus on national security and the fight against ISIS. But when the president took questions from the press, the subject quickly turned to Iran and assertions the $400 million cash payment to Iran was a ransom payment for the release four of American hostages.
The payment reportedly took place the same day the hostages were released.
“We announced these payments in January, many months ago. There was no secret. We announced them to all of you. The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions, and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran, that we couldn’t send them a check,” the president stated, defending the nature of the cash transaction.
Advertisement – story continues below
In the speech, the president also said the U.S. does not and will not pay ransoms to anyone in exchange for Americans to be released because in doing so, more Americans across the globe would be taken hostage.
Our highly qualified POTUS ships $400M cash as ransom to our jihadist enemy Iran, which promptly takes more hostages https://t.co/2o51aAReAc
— Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) August 3, 2016
But that is precisely what happened with Iran.
Advertisement – story continues below
Six weeks after the settlement payment was made, Iran took 80-year-old Baquer Namazi hostage. He is the father of imprisoned American businessman Siamak Namazi, who was taken hostage in October and wasn’t a part of the prisoner exchange negotiations.
Then, in July, Iranian-born American Robin Shahini was taken hostage while reportedly visiting his ailing mother in Iran.
All of which leads critics to contend the cash payment was a ransom payment, which has resulted in more hostage taking by Iran.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news Wednesday of the details of the cash payment made in January. According to the WSJ, “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 WSJ said the payment, “coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.” Having both the settlement and the nuclear deal agreed upon, the prisoners were then released.
On Jan. 17, Obama released a statement regarding the payment. “With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute ($1.7 billion settlement),” he said. But he did not disclose the payment was made in cash, a transaction he defended Thursday, not as being a ransom payment, but as being the result of U.N. sanctions that prohibited a banking relationship with Iran.
The announced settlement (paid in cash), the signing of the nuclear deal, and the release of the American hostages, was not coincidental according to critics like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who said, “This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures (hostage taking),” he said.
Advertisement - story continues below
“Paying ransom only put more lives of Americans in jeopardy. We already know that the Iran nuclear deal was a historic mistake…What else is the Obama administration hiding?” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.
Facebook has greatly reduced the distribution of our stories in our readers' newsfeeds and is instead promoting mainstream media sources. When you share to your friends, however, you greatly help distribute our content. Please take a moment and consider sharing this article with your friends and family. Thank you.