During an interview broadcast on Wednesday’s edition of MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” Hassan Rouhani didn’t deny that the cash payments given to Iran were ransom for the four American released back in January, which prompted NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell to say that Iran sees “that they can have some leverage by holding dual nationals.”
Rouhani was asked, “There were several cash payments that Iran received from the United States earlier this year. Some critics of that in the United States Senate argue that the money was a ransom payment, a quid pro quo if you will, for the four Americans that were released in January. Was it? Were the hostages were being held until that money was being transferred over?
He answered, according to the translation of his remarks, “There were two issues. One of them were the sums of monies belonging to the nation of Iran left in the United States, seized by the United States, and there are still considerable sums of money in the United States that belong to our nation, and we’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran. Some things that we could not agree upon, there are ways to address those and in the international court system. Now, vis-à-vis the imprisonment of those Iranians, or those Iranians who are imprisoned in the United States, or were being prosecuted by the United States, or the same for those who were being held in Iran with dual citizenship. So, we worked quite hard in order to have a concerted effort to free those from both sides, both the Iranians who were being held or prosecuted in the United States, as well as those who were sentenced in Iran and had served some of their prison terms, and they were pardoned for the remainder of their prison terms. So, there were these two issues that were being talked about, simultaneously, on parallel tracks, and perhaps these dialogues can be still conducted simultaneously, on parallel tracks, while we’re conducting those same conversations in order to free the sums of money that are still owed to us. In other words, these are the monies belonging to the Iranian nation, left in the United States for 38 years, and must be returned to its rightful owner.”
After the interview, Todd stated, “What was stunning is that he didn’t deny it, and then I thought he hinted that this — these parallel track conversations may continue in the future. Does this mean he’s going to — that they think this is the best way to get their money?”
Mitchell responded, “I think they now see that they can have some leverage by holding dual nationals. I think this is a clear warning to any Iranian-American not to go home to visit the relatives, because he is saying that their legal system does not give them any protection. They don’t recognize our laws, and that they are going to continue to see what they can get by these negotiations.”
Both Mitchell and Todd agreed that this interpretation was a “frightening interpretation.”
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