NEW YORK — The Treasury Department on Saturday confirmed that it wire transferred at least two separate payments to Iran in the last fourteen months.
The admission raises significant new questions about President Obama’s claim that he sent $400 million in cash to Iran because the U.S. doesn’t have a banking relationship with Tehran.
The Obama administration delivered the $400 million in pallets of foreign currency flown aboard an unmarked jetliner in January. The cash was jetted in the same day five American hostages were released from Iranian custody.
Politico reported on Saturday:
The United States made at least two separate payments to the Iranian government via wire transfer within the last 14 months, a Treasury Department spokesman confirmed Saturday, contradicting explanations from President Barack Obama that such payments were impossible.
…But a Treasury Department spokesman acknowledged on Saturday that on at least two occasions, the U.S. did make payments to the Iranian government via wire transfer.
In July 2015, the same month in which the U.S., Iran and other countries announced a landmark nuclear agreement, the U.S. government paid the Islamic republic approximately $848,000. That payment settled a claim over architectural drawings and fossils that are now housed in the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and Iran’s Ministry of Environment, respectively. Then, in April 2016, the U.S. wired Iran approximately $9 million to remove 32 metric tons of its heavy water, which is used to produce plutonium and can aid in the making of nuclear weapons.
While the April 2016 payment came after some sanctions were relieved, the July 2015 wire transfer was executed before the Iran nuclear deal was implemented and while sanctions were fully in effect. The July 2015 payment predated the January cash transfer, meaning wire transfers were seemingly a possibility at that time, despite Obama’s claim to the contrary.
Politico reported the Treasury Department would not clarify the matter:
The Treasury Department spokesman explained that the lifting of those sanctions allowed Iran “to gain incremental access to the international financial system, which opened up more options for executing transactions, such as the heavy water transaction” that occurred in April 2016. The spokesman declined to offer an explanation as to why the July 2015 payment was possible despite the full array of sanctions in place at the time.
Regarding the need for cash, Obama explained in August that the U.S. does not have a banking relationship with Tehran and he stated specifically that “We could not wire the money.”
“The only bit of news that is relevant on this is the fact that we paid cash,” Obama told reporters.
“The reason we had to give them cash is because we are so strict in maintaining sanction answers we don’t have a banking relationships with Iran that we couldn’t send them a check. We could not wire the money,” the president added.
Continued Obama: “And it is not at all clear to me why it is that cash as opposed to a check or a wire transfer has made this into a news story. Maybe because it feels like some spy novel or you know, some crime novel. Because cash was exchanged.”
The State and Treasury Departments have also not answered repeated requests about when and how it sent to Iran a sum of $1.3 billion, which was part of the same settlement for which the Obama administration delivered the $400 million in cash.
It has been widely reported that the $400 million was part of a dispute that arose after Iran in the late 1970s had purchased U.S. fighter jets while Tehran was still an American ally. After the country turned into an enemy in 1979, the U.S. halted delivery of the military equipment, thus triggering an international case in which Iran was asking The Hague arbitrators for $10 billion.
Following years of negotiations, the Obama administration finally agreed to settle the case for $1.7 billion – the initial $400 million plus another $1.3 billion in interest.
Breitbart Jerusalem reported in August that the State and Treasury Departments both told this reporter that the U.S. government transferred the remaining $1.3 billion but that, despite numerous requests, neither State nor Treasury would provide an answer on how the Obama administration allegedly transferred to Iran the remaining $1.3 billion.
The details about how and when the additional funds were sent are relevant to determining whether President Obama needed to pay Iran on the same day the hostages were released and whether the payment needed to be made in cash because the two countries had no banking relationship, as the president has said.
Earlier this month, CNN and the Wall Street Journal reported that at least two more cash payments were made to Iran as part of the $1.7 billion settlement.
The Obama administration made two additional cash payments totaling $1.3 billion, after delivering $400 million to Iran by plane in January, to resolve a failed arms deal, administration officials told lawmakers Tuesday.
The briefing, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was confirmed to CNN by congressional aides who attended. The additional payments were delivered to Iran in Swiss francs, Euros and other currencies.
In an email exchange with Breitbart Jerusalem, a spokesperson for the Judgement Fund confirmed that the payment for the compromise that was reached on interest, of approximately $1.3 billion, has indeed been provided out of the Fund.
The Fund spokesperson refused to comment on the mechanics of how a settlement payment was made or when the payment was transferred. The spokesperson did not reply to a follow-up question about whether the remaining $1.3 billion was transferred in cash or by any other means.
When asked about how the remaining $1.3 billion was transferred, a spokesperson for the State Department replied that the agency had “nothing to add beyond what the President and Secretary have already said on the subject.”
While refusing to comment on the timing, the spokesperson confirmed that the remaining $1.3 billion was indeed paid in full to Iran. The spokesperson also refused to provide comment to two separate requests about how the money was transferred.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.