Obama denies $400M payment to Iran was ransom
Thu., Aug. 4, 2016
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama vigorously denied on Thursday that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was ransom to secure the release of four Americans jailed in Tehran. He defended the transaction as evidence that the nuclear accord with Iran has allowed for progress on other matters.
“This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” Obama said during a news conference at the Pentagon.
The money was delivered to the Iranian government in January, at the same time the nuclear deal was settled and the Americans were released. The payment was part of a decades-old dispute over a failed military equipment deal dating to the 1970s, before the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Obama also answered political questions at the news conference, pushing back at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s suggestions that the November election might be rigged, calling the assertion “ridiculous.” He said his advice to Trump, a candidate he has declared “unfit” for the presidency, was to “go out there and try to win the election.”
Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will soon be receiving classified briefings, giving them access to sensitive information about national security and America’s military posture. Asked whether he was worried about Trump having access to such material, Obama said simply that those who want to be president need to start acting like it.
“That means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around,” he said.
The president’s appearance before reporters followed an hours-long meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon on the fight against the Islamic State group.
Obama said there have been gains in weakening IS in Iraq and Syria, but he conceded the extremist group still poses a threat to the United States as it shifts its tactics to carrying out attacks elsewhere around the world. While those attacks may result in less carnage, Obama said IS knows they still create “the kinds of fear and concern that elevates their profile.”
On Iran, Obama expressed surprise at criticism of his administration’s cash payment to settle a longstanding legal claim, rejecting claims that it was a ransom paid for the release of the four Americans.
He pointed out that the payment, along with an additional $1.3 billion in interest to be paid later, was announced by the administration when it was concluded in January, a day after the implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran. “It wasn’t a secret. We were completely open about it,” he said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.