During the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of former President Obama, 2,500 Iranians were granted U.S. citizenship, according to an Iranian official.
Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary nuclear committee, and member of the national security and foreign affairs committee, recently made the claim while he was interviewed by the Etemad newspaper of Iran, Fox News reported.
He claimed the citizenship grants, which were also given to family members of Iranian officials, came as a favor to senior Iranian officials connected to President Hassan Rouhani. The officials reportedly competed over whose children would receive citizenship.
The deal came out of negotiations for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was completed in July 2015 with the Obama Administration.
“When Obama, during the negotiations about the JCPOA, decided to do a favor to these men, he granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians and some officials started a competition over whose children could be part of these 2,500 Iranians,” Zolnour claimed.
“If today these Iranians get deported from America, it will become clear who is complicit and sells the national interest like he is selling candies to America,” he continued.
“It should be stated exactly which children of which authorities live in the United States and have received citizenship or residency,” Zolnour added.
Zolnour is a member of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “inner circle,” but he did not mention any individuals by name.
In his estimation, 30 to 60 people were in the U.S. for education, including the children of current and former Iranian officials, while the remaining people were working “against [Iran’s] national interests.”
Zolnour didn’t specify whether the individuals received full citizenship or a green card.
In 2015, green cards were issued to 13,114 Iranian-born people, while citizenship was granted to 10,344.
President Trump tweeted about the news: “How big (and bad) is that?”
Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians – including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
In May, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.
Saeed Ghasseminejad, research fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News: “Many ordinary Iranians are surprised and feel betrayed that children of the regime officials live and work in the U.S.”
“The regime officials chant death to America but send their children to the U.S., away from the hell they have created in Iran over the past four decades,” he added.
Some Iranians have requested the deportation of these 2,500 people.
“Iranians don’t understand why the U.S. government allows the offspring of the regime officials to live in the U.S., while the U.S. has introduced a travel ban for ordinary Iranian citizens and many Americans are imprisoned in Iran. That is why many Iranians on social media have been urging the U.S. government to deport the children of the regime officials,” Ghassminejad said.
Officials from the State Department and Department of Homeland Security did not comment on the claim.
A former State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, doubts the credibility of Zolnour’s claims.
“This sounds like totally made up BS,” she said.
Last month, the Senate announced that the Obama Administration provided Iran with access to U.S. banking systems after the Iran nuclear deal was completed, despite sanctions imposed by his administration. The access was granted in the form of a license, which permitted Iran to convert its currency to euros.
Rouhani has faced mounting pressure since the deal with dismantled. Oil companies and other global firms have backed out of billion-dollar deals with Iran. The value of Iran’s currency, the rial, has also plummeted.