The Obama administration delivered $1.3 billion more in cash to Iran earlier this year after the initial and infamous $400 million "ransom" payment, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The Journal reported that lawmakers were briefed Tuesday about the payments, months after the U.S. sent a total of $1.7 billion in non-U.S. currency to Iran from Jan. 17 through Feb. 5.
The subsequent $1.3 billion was transferred in the same way as the initial $400 million — to an Iranian cargo plane in Switzerland.
Lawmakers were livid to learn of the initial payment, which coincided with Iran's release of five American prisoners. When pressed, officials have since acknowledged the initial $400 million was used as leverage to guarantee their release, which many have called a ransom payment, a charge the president continues to deny.
The news of the additional $1.3 billion prompted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's pledge to introduce legislation to block any further payments to Iran. Titled the No Ransom Payments Act, it would also require Iran to return the funds it has already received.
"The U.S. government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages," Rubio said.
The $1.7 billion settlement dates back to the early 1980s when Iran paid the U.S. $400 million for airplane parts that were never delivered, according to the Journal. Arbitration was the chosen route for the U.S., fearing the interest could have resulted in 10 times more than what has been paid so far.
Officials told the Journal that the $1.7 billion came from a Treasury Department fund established to cover court judgments and settlements.
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