The Obama administration secretly helped lift UN sanctions on two Iranian banks, on the exact same day four American hostages were released, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The sanctions revelation, coupled with a now revealed 400 million dollar payment to Iran that day, further contradict the original administration narrative that credited “strong American diplomacy.” The sanctions were not supposed to be lifted until 2023, and were in place for the banks’ role in supporting Iran’s ballistic missile system.
“By agreeing to remove U.N. and EU sanctions eight years early on Iran’s main missile financing bank, the administration effectively greenlighted their nuclear warhead-capable ballistic missile program,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies head Mark Dubowtiz told TheWSJ.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury called one of the banks the administration lifted sanctions on “the financial linchpin of Iran’s missile procurement network,” in 2007.
Previous reports confirmed the U.S. wouldn’t let a plane carrying $400 million take off for Iran until three U.S. prisoners departed Iran in January. The mechanics of the exchange all but confirm accusations that the $400 million in cash was a ransom payment. Saeed Abedini, a former Iranian hostage said, Iranian intelligence officials told him his plane could not take off until the movements of a second plane were confirmed. The second plane is like the U.S. cargo plane carrying $400 million in cash.
After the details of the exchange came to light the U.S. Department of State admitted to reporters they used the money as “leverage.”
“The timing of this, despite administration protests to the contrary, suggests that this was a ransom payment,” Jonathan Schanzer, an expert on terrorism finance and the vice president of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And even if this was not what the administration intended, it certainly looks that way to the Iranians.”
Before the revelations the administration crowed about how imperative the administration’s Iran deal made the hostage agreement possible. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks,” the day after the hostage announcement.
Obama claims he announced the payment concurrent with the hostage announcement, and declared on August 4, “The United States does not pay ransom and does not negotiate ransoms.”
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