The Obama Administration confirmed Wednesday that the $1.3 billion dollars owed to Iran as interest on the $400 million failed arms deal was paid to the Islamic Republic in January. The State Department said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon that the remaining debt owed to Iran was paid just two days after the $400 million was delivered to Iranian officials.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters at the press briefing Wednesday that the remaining $1.3 billion dollars owed to Iran was transferred on January 19th of this year, just two days after the $400 million dollars cash was delivered to Geneva by plane on January 17th. Trudeau said that she couldn’t offer more specifics about the remaining $1.3 billion dollar transfer because of “diplomatic sensitivities”.
The $1.3 billion dollars was reportedly sent via wire transfer in 13 installments of $99,999,999.99 including a final payment of about $10 million dollars more. While Trudeau could not offer any explanation as to why the Treasury Department kept the individual payments under $100 million dollars, she did say that Iran considered the debt settled, despite being 13 cents short.
White House Spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed last week that the transaction occurred, saying that “The $1.3 billion payment has been made. It was made through a transaction involving central banks but obviously not the US central bank because there are extensive restrictions on the financial relationship between the United States and Iran” but left out details on how the transaction specifically happened.
The controversial $400 million dollars cash delivered to Iran received scrutiny after details of the transfer surfaced. According to the Obama Administration, the $400 million dollars had to be delivered in foreign currency and in cash because of restrictions imposed on banking between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran. However the multiple wire payments just two days later destroys that narrative.
Furthermore, the timing of the money transfers was damning considering that the $400 million dollars was said to be “contingent” on the release of four U.S. hostages. According to State Department spokesman John Kirby, though the plane with the hostages was held on the ground until the money arrived in Geneva, the payment was not a “ransom” for the return of the detainees but rather “leverage”.
The $400 million in cash that was transferred to Iran via plane to Geneva was said by the Obama Administration to be a settlement in a decades long dispute which began in the 1970’s. According to the Administration, a $400 million dollar payment was made by the U.S.-backed shah’s government to the U.S. to purchase military equipment which never ended up being sent once the 1979 Islamic Revolution occurred and overthrew the U.S. friendly government. Obama said that Iran and the U.S. had finally reached a repayment deal which included giving back the original $400 million dollars plus $1.3 billion dollars in interest.