According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million in cash to Iran that coincided with the release of four Americans detained in Tehran.
Congressional staff and other American and European officials are said to have confirmed that wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane.
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement of a long-running dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s Shah.
The settlement coincided with the formal implementation of the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
President Obama said at the time, “with the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said:
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home.
“Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.”