Tags: Barack Obama | Iran | State Dept. | John Kirby | No Apologies | Cash Payment | Iran

State Department: 'No Apologies' on Using $400M for 'Leverage' on Hostages

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Friday, 19 Aug 2016 09:43 AM

It would have been "foolish and imprudent" for the United States to pay the $400 million from a settlement over funds owed back to Iran dating back to the regime of the former Shah of Iran without first securing the release of four hostages, and "no apologies" are necessary for that decision, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Friday.

"We took full advantage of that momentum in what turned out to be about a 24-hour period to try to get it all done together," Kirby told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. 

"There isn't a lot of trust with Iran, so it would have been foolish and imprudent in our view to go ahead and settle the cash payment of the principal when we didn't have our Americans back."

The money, which ended up being delivered in foreign currency placed on pallets, was Iran's money all along, Kirby continued, and represented funds "they were going to get back anyway . . . This interest payment was much more advantageous to the American taxpayers. To a degree, there was a quid pro quo, but we got a much more advantageous schedule."

President Barack Obama first announced the settlement back in January, but Kirby said he could not comment about why Obama didn't explain the decision about the money's release back when it happened.

Further, he insisted that the negotiations for the hostages were completely separate from the nuclear deal that was reached with Iran, but the two were "kind of converging," and the State Department took "full advantage of that, and we made no apologies for that."

Also, said Kirby, Iran was "playing games" over whether one of the hostages would be able to get on the plane, and the Obama administration was worried if Iran was going to "somehow pull a fast one" in the final hours of the prisoners' release.

"I think we did use it as leverage, and we make no apologies about that because we got our American citizens back safely," said Kirby.

The administration is being criticized for its decision and its initial insistence that the $400 million payment was not connected with the hostages' release, but Kirby said officials were "very open and honest and forthright about the details of the payment.

"We were trying to get our Americans back and we were honest about the fact that it came together at the end of the nuclear deal," said Kirby. "We didn't get into the exact tick talk of all the mechanics and how every step was played out.

"Again, we could argue whether that was wise or not. The bottom line is we got these people back and we got them back safely."

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It would have been "foolish and imprudent" for the United States to pay the $400 million from a settlement over funds owed back to Iran dating back to the regime of the former Shah of Iran without first securing the release of four hostages, and "no apologies" are necessary...
State Dept., John Kirby, No Apologies, Cash Payment, Iran
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2016-43-19
Friday, 19 Aug 2016 09:43 AM
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