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During the opening statements on Sunday night’s presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump described the Iran nuclear deal as a “one-sided transaction” that would result in $150 billion returning to the coffers of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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“When I look at the Iran deal and how bad a deal it is for us, it’s a one-sided transaction where we’re giving back $150 billion to a terrorist state – really, the number one terrorist state,” Trump told the audience, responding to a question from the audience. “We’ve made them a strong country from, really, a very weak country just three years ago.”
Trump has made this claim regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), as the Iran nuclear deal is officially known, and received some criticism for it. Fact-checking websites such as Politifact have argued that Trump’s claim is false because “the money is already Iran’s to begin with,” but not denied that this amount of money would return to the control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei thanks to the deal. The New York Times has argued that the $150 billion estimate is a fabrication by “congressional Republicans” far from the real amount of money Iran would once again control.
As Algemeiner, citing Omri Ceren of the Israel Project, notes, the twelve-figure estimate of the money the deal would return to Iranian control came from President Barack Obama, not Republicans. President Obama said in an interview that Iran “has $150 billion parked outside the country,” arguing that not all of its funds under sanctions will be unfrozen immediately because “unwinding the existing restraints… takes a certain amount of time.”
This money does not include a separate $1.7 billion payment to the government of Iran, allegedly to atone for an arms sales agreement that never went through after the 1979 Islamic revolution. The U.S. government handed over that money the same day that Iran released several American citizens imprisoned on dubious charges.
Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who played a major role in brokering the Iran nuclear deal, have admitted that the Iranian regime will likely use the money to fund terrorism, particularly activity by the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah.