Inside the 37-Year Standoff Over Iran’s Frozen U.S. Dollars

Iran sought the money from every administration since Carter’s; will Obama’s deal encourage more claims?

When the shah of Iran fell in 1979, the U.S. froze at least $400 million of Iranian money sitting in a Pentagon trust fund. The Islamic Republic of Iran never stopped trying to get it back.

Tehran unsuccessfully sought the money from Jimmy Carter in return for 52 American diplomats held hostage for 444 days. It asked the Reagan administration for the same money during dealings that led to the Iran-Contra scandal. The issue came up...

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Wall Street Journal: Who Read What in 2016

Steph Curry, Dava Sobel, Mike Lee, Yaa Gyasi, Abby Wambach, Jeff Bewkes and 44 more of WSJ's friends name their favorite books of 2016.

Michael Doran on the Iran deal:

...And if, on a completely unrelated topic, you sense that President Obama’s opening to Iran was ill-advised, then Jay Solomon’s “The Iran Wars” is also for you. Mr. Solomon, a Journal reporter, describes how an overeager secretary of state, John Kerry, offered up imprudent concessions while hiding the depth of the Islamic Republic’s hostility to America. Without saying it explicitly, Mr. Solomon leads you to conclude that the nuclear deal, built as it is on wishful thinking, is destined to collapse of its own weight. 
 

Mr. Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is the author of “Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East."

 

Source: http://graphics.wsj.com/image-grid/Who-Rea...

The deals and rhetoric behind the U.S. relationship with Iran

 
 

In his new book, “The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East,” The Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon discusses the U.S. power struggle with Iran, including the Obama administration’s nuclear deal and controversial cash delivery and whether Iran complicated the American stance on Assad. Solomon sits down with Margaret Warner to discuss his work.

 

Washington Institute for Near East Policy: U.S.-Iranian relations

On September 7, three experts - Jay Solomon, James Dobbins, and Dennis Ross - addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute to discuss whether the contentious history of U.S.-Iranian relations stems more from unrealistic American expectations and missed opportunities, or from the Islamic Republic's strategic decision to oppose Washington's interests. Ambassador Dobbins is a former U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, among other positions. Ambassador Ross, who moderated the event, is the Institute's William Davidson Distinguished Fellow and former special assistant to President Obama. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.

 
Source: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-...

Publisher's Weekly Review: The Iran Wars

Publisher's Weekly review of Jay Solomon's The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East:

"Solomon, the Wall Street Journal’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, offers a timely, challenging account of the sanctions and secret negotiations that led to the July 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and the UN. Candid interviews with major figures such as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad add to Solomon’s rich analysis. For over a decade, the Bush and Obama administrations struggled with little success to contain Iran’s ambitions in the Middle East and access to nuclear power. To achieve its goals, the U.S. cut deals with Russia and China and damaged relations with allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. Solomon remains skeptical that détente with Iran is the right solution. What he calls Obama’s defining achievement in foreign policy is also, by his lights, 'among the riskiest bets made by a U.S. president in modern history.'"

Read the full review here.

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8129...

U.S. Acknowledges Cash Payment to Iran Was ‘Leverage’ in Prisoner Release

State Department confirms U.S. refused to allow Iran to take $400 million cash payment until plane carrying freed Americans left Tehran

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration said for the first time on Thursday that its $400 million cash payment to Iran in January was used as “leverage” to gain the release of American prisoners, fueling criticism that the exchange amounted to the U.S. paying ransom.

State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the U.S. refused to allow Iran to take possession of the cash until a plane carrying the freed Americans had taken off... 

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Why the Ayatollah Thinks He Won

The U.S. hoped that the nuclear deal would boost Iran’s moderates, but after more than a year, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies seem to be the big winners

Since the completion last year of a landmark deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has lashed out again and again at the U.S. for its supposed failure to live up to its end of the bargain. But a speech he gave on Aug. 1 in Tehran took his anti-American rhetoric to a new level. Read the full article on the Wall Street Journal

U.S. Held Cash Until Iran Freed Prisoners

Exchange was tightly scripted and specifically timed to the prisoner release

Secretary of State John Kerry talked with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna on Jan. 16. PHOTO: KEVIN LAMARQUE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Secretary of State John Kerry talked with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna on Jan. 16. PHOTO: KEVIN LAMARQUE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—New details of the $400 million U.S. payment to Iran earlier this year depict a tightly scripted exchange specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.

The picture emerged from accounts of U.S. officials and others briefed on the operation: U.S. officials wouldn’t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on Jan. 17. Once that happened, an Iranian cargo plane was allowed to bring the cash home from a Geneva airport that day.

President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have said the payment didn’t amount to ransom, because the U.S. owed the money to Iran as part of a longstanding dispute linked to a failed arms deal from the 1970s. U.S. officials have said that the prisoner release and cash transfer took place through two separate diplomatic channels.

But the handling of the payment and its connection to the Americans’ release have raised questions among lawmakers and administration critics.

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PBS News Hour: Investigating the Obama administration’s $400 million payment to Iran

PBS News Hour: "The Wall Street Journal revealed this week that in January, the Obama administration secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran. The money was owed as part of a failed arms deal prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but payment coincided with the release of four Americans held in Tehran. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Jay Solomon, the Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story."

Watch the interview below:

 
 

KIRKUS REVIEW: The Iran Wars

 
 
“A thorough yet concise survey of Iran’s buildup of nuclear technology since the 1980s, its troubling exporting of Shiite insurgency in countries around it, and the changing American reaction. Wall Street Journal chief foreign affairs correspondent [Jay] Solomon offers an evenhanded look at the backdoor schemes involving the building of Iran’s nuclear weapons and the world players involved in and against its machinations.”

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Secret Dealings With Iran Led to Nuclear Talks

Years of clandestine exchanges between the two countries helped build a foundation for nuclear negotiations

Iran secretly passed to the White House beginning in late 2009 the names of prisoners it wanted released from U.S. custody, part of a wish list to test President Barack Obama’s commitment to improving ties and a move that set off years of clandestine dispatches that helped open the door to nuclear negotiations. Read more