Cherry on Top: Iran to Get $1.7 Billion Settlement from U.S. in Addition to Sanctions Relief
President Obama today declared at the White House that "Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb" and that their "tireless" negotiations paid off with several American hostages coming home.
Obama's Cabinet Room statement came a day after the administration announced the lifting of sanctions on Iran for Implementation Day of the nuclear deal as well as the prisoner swap: seven to Iran, five to the U.S. The administration is claiming the fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, was released not as part of the swap but as a goodwill gesture by Iran.
Obama called the clemency granted to six Iranian–Americans and one Iranian serving sentences or awaiting trial "a reciprocal humanitarian gesture," and asserted none of them were "charged with terrorism or any violent offenses." They were, however, involved in networks procuring illegal components for Iran deemed damaging to national security by the Justice Department and in one case hacked a defense contractor to steal millions in proprietary software.
"And their release is a one-time gesture to Iran given the unique opportunity offered by this moment and the larger circumstances at play," he said. "And it reflects our willingness to engage with Iran to advance our mutual interests, even as we ensure the national security of the United States."
"So, nuclear deal implemented. American families reunited. The third piece of this work that we got done this weekend involved the United States and Iran resolving a financial dispute that dated back more than three decades. Since 1981, after our nations severed diplomatic relations, we’ve worked through a international tribunal to resolve various claims between our countries. The United States and Iran are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government. Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought," Obama said.
That payout to Iran from the United States? $1.7 billion.
Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the settlement is $400 million debt and $1.3 billion in interest dating back to the Islamic revolution. That's separate from the sanctions windfall Iran will receive.
"For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran," Obama claimed. "So there was no benefit to the United States in dragging this out. With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well."
The president then acknowledged a bit of Iran's other bad behavior, such as "a violation of its international obligations" with illegal ballistic missile tests.