The Secret U.S. Iran Nuclear Deal

The story behind why U.S. paid Iran $400 Millions in a deal

President Barack Obama

There has always been conflicting and confrontations between different governments and perhaps the most glaring example could be the cold and undiplomatic relations between the USA and the Islamic Republic of Iran ever since 1979 when the Shah of Iran, Raza Shah Pahlavi was ousted and forced into exile by the greatest revolution of the century led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Immediately after the arrival of Khomeini, back from exile in France, relations with the US were further exacerbated by the Iranian hostage crisis when students of the University of Tehran impassioned by the revolutionary zeal and fervor lay siege to the US embassy in Tehran.

Fifty-two American were taken as a hostage from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981. As coincidence would have it President Carter had been defeated in the 1980 elections and Ronald Reagan was the incoming president.

It is an unverified or unsubstantiated report that at the time of the crisis the Reagan camp had sent feelers to the Iranian camp to release the hostages when Reagan took the oath of office. This was to make sure that Reagan took credit for the release.

However, this was not the case, the Carter administration had struck a deal to return the billions frozen by Carter just 10 days after the siege.

Similarly, the Iran-Contra affair during Reagan’s second term was a great political scandal, Iran was at war with Iraq and was desperate for sophisticated arms from any source possible.

Also known as Irangate or Contragate, the Reagan administration sought to sell arms to Iran with the hope that Iran would use its influence with the Shia militant group, Hizbollah, in Lebanon which were holding several hostages including Americans in Beirut.

Since they could not sell directly to Iran in view of a complete arms embargo imposed by the U.S congress, the modus operandi was such that Israel would ship the arms to Iran which the US would replace and the proceeds of the sale which Israel received from Iran would then be diverted to contra rebels in Nicaragua fighting the communist.

Technically, the Reagan administration was not violating laws passed by congress as they were neither selling directly to the Iranians nor funding the Contras directly.

Although President Ronald Reagan was a strong advocate of the contra cause there is no substantiated evidence that he authorized the diversion of funds.

It is alleged that Caspar Weinberger, the US Secretary of Defence took handwritten notes to the president which indicated that Reagan was well aware of the sale of Tomahawk missiles and tow missiles sales to Iran and the possible release of hostages in Lebanon.

Dealing with the enemy is an accepted norm in governments. It is a well-known fact the Office of Strategic Services or OSS as it was commonly known which later became the CIA, had engaged Nazi intelligence officers to be recruited to spy on the Soviet Union despite many of them known to have war crime records.

In other words, It is alright to look the other way when a good cause is being served.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has always been considered as the arch nemesis of the United States and vice versa and the Iranians label the US as The “Big Satan” responsible for the world’s problems.

It has always been suspected that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program to develop nuclear arms and is secretly enriching uranium for the purpose. Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979 The United States imposed restrictions against Iran and in 1995 expanded them to firms dealing with Iran.

The Iranian economy was hurting and in 2015 talks started with Iran over the nuclear issue. and eventually on Jan 16, 2016. UN inspectors confirmed that Iran had fulfilled all conditions.

Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed the deal tooth and nail and at times contemplated striking Iran’s nuclear facilities as they did but President Obama restrained them.

Ever since 1979. The US has withheld billions of dollars in cash and assets which the Iranians are claiming back. Recently, Iran had detained four Americans while the US had detained 7 Iranians for trading with Iran.

 

U.S. Sent $400M Iran Deal
U.S. Sent $400M to Iran on Same Day Americans Were Freed 2:06

In a gesture of goodwill, Obama granted clemency to the Iranians while Iran released the Americans. As a added bonus Obama released 400m dollars which made the GOP and the Trump camp cry foul.

But was it ransom that had been paid? The White house has denied that it was ransom and attributed the release of funds as part payment t of the 12 billion or 1.7 billion dollars the Americans had stashed away from the time of the Shah of Iran for the purchase of arms.

U.S. Sent $400M to Iran on Same Day Americans Were Freed 2:06. That sum was actually part of a $1.7 billion settlement with Iran for a decades-long legal dispute that was before an international tribunal in The Hague, according to State Department officials.

The money was transferred on Jan 17, 2016, exactly a day after the four Americans were released. The four Americans were identified as Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who had been convicted of espionage last year, Amir Hekmati, a former Marine who had been held since 2011, Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor imprisoned since 2012, and a man only named as Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari.

All good deeds deserve rewards for that is the natural order of things. Iran has complied with all the condition set up and relations are improving.

As said earlier the pay-off to the Iranians was not well received by the Republican and many slammed it as a weakness on the side of Obama to cede to the demands of the terrorists.

The most vocal Republican to lash out was Senator Tom Cotton, from Arkansas who accused the Government of acting as a drug cartel.

The said 400m was paid in cash packed in a pallet which led Cotton to say that the money could easily be used for terrorist funding or money laundering.

Sen Tom Cotton
Sen Tom Cotton (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Playing down reports that The White House had done anything wrong when the details of the payment were published in the Wall Street Journal, the counterpoint from the oval office being that the released funds were part of the billions the US had frozen since years.

According to the paper, an unmarked cargo plane loaded with wooden pallets stacked with Euros, Swiss francs, and other foreign currencies was secretly flown into Iran on the same day the U.S. exchanged seven Iranians for four American citizens.

Cotton, however, said Sunday that, “it doesn’t really matter what President Obama says.”

Democratic vice- presidential- nominee, Tim Kaine leapt to Obama’s defense stressing that the administration was not involved in any shady deals.

The Senator from Virginia who agreed to be Hillary’s vice-president nominee categorically stated that the USA has a long standing policy of not ceding to terrorists, blackmailers, kidnappers and but tries to negotiate the best deal possible.

The US secretary of state, Senator John Kerry who was instrumental in pulling off the deal with Iran adding his opinion to the affair stated that the talks for the release of the Americans were well facilitated by the positive conclusion of the nuclear talks.

Iran has millions or billions of dollars which the Americans are withholding and the release of 400m dollars is surely a positive side in improving relations with the United States.

Iran’s economy has been hurting and the lifting of sanctions have provided immense relief to the government as well as to the common man in the streets of Iran.

One should not always view things from a political perspective. Five lives were saved and the Iranians received a part of a sum which was rightfully theirs in the very first place.

The world is going through a turbulent period especially in the Middle East and with Iran becoming a growing regional power in the region it is only prudent to woo them to exercise their influence in that troubled part of the world.

The threat to the world from the Islamic State or IS as it is known is grave and potentially volatile and diplomacy is the possible recourse and not war mongering. The Americans would do well which is also high time that it distances itself from its greatest ally in the Middle East and start making positive overtures to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Iran should also be flexible in its approach in dealing with the western world also and under President Hasan Rouhani it seems quite likely the situation will improve.

As for the republican party, well the US elections are three months away and with a megalomaniac contending as their nominee, The GOP will stoop to any level to smear the democratic party although there are many in the GOP, saner elements who not endorse the attitude, stance, and rhetoric that Donald Trump has been spewing forth . The US elections 2016 as many are predicting will be the nastiest, ugliest and most contention in the history of the USA.

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Written by Syed Anwer Ali

Ali Anwer is a veteran journalist having worked in Asia’s leading English daily newspaper for almost a decade. A prolific writer, he has contributed articles to different newspapers and established websites. He has also engaged in sports reporting for a brief period.

Having traveled the world extensively, he is a repository of information on world history, current affairs, political events and the entertainment industry. Being a movie buff he is an encyclopedia on Hollywood movies and actors.

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