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.
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...Read More
Exchange was tightly scripted and specifically timed to the prisoner release
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.