Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.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 settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also 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.
- Remember, the money that was transferred was always Iran’s money. It’s just that the United States seized Iran’a assets when Iran seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Always remember — this is Iran’s money being given back to Iran;
- By all accounts the United States was going to lose an international legal tribunal ruling on the dispute. The payment prevented having to pay an even bigger penalty (in terms of interest on the $400 million held over 35 years).
- The transfer was not kept secret, but announced in January when the exchange took place. The new information in the WSJ stories are that (a) the transfer was in pallets of cash and (b) DOJ officials were queasy about the optics.
- WSJ: “U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.”
- Vox: “It’s easy to see how the timing is suspicious.”
- NYT: “It seems unlikely that the simultaneous timing of the two events [the cash transfer and the hostage release] was coincidental.”