House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce has introduced a measure to legalize the theft of Iranian money.
“What’s worse than a $400 million cash ransom to Iran? A $1.7 billion cash ransom to Iran,” the California Republican said on Tuesday. “Sending the world’s leading state sponsor of terror pallets of untraceable cash isn’t just terrible policy. It’s incredibly reckless, and it only puts bigger targets on the backs of Americans.”
“Iran’s supreme leader must not be allowed to seek ‘death to America’ with U.S. dollars in his pocket,” Royce said.
In the Senate, Marco Rubio introduced legislation to put a halt to all future payments until Iran returns the “ransom money” and settles claims from Americans who say there are victims of Iranian terrorism.
Following the revolution in Iran in 1979 and the resulting hostage crisis, the United States locked up Iran’s money held in foreign banks. The United Nations also participated in the seizure of cash and property. Many of the assets were released after the Algiers Accords were signed and the hostage crisis came to an end in 1981, however a significant amount remained frozen.
Part of last year’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, included the release of around $100 billion in Iranian assets. Hours before pen was put to paper on the deal, the Iranians released four imprisoned Iranian Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who had been convicted of espionage.
Republicans said the release of prisoners coinciding with the thawing of frozen assets amounted to ransom. Obama and the State Department disagreed.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have used the prisoner release and the nuclear deal as a political football. Ryan characterized the return of money and property as “another chapter in the ongoing saga of misleading the American people to sell this dangerous nuclear deal.” Trump declared the return of seized assets set a “dangerous” precedent.
“Hillary Clinton’s support for President Obama’s approach to Iran, including the deeply flawed nuclear deal she helped spearhead, reflects the same bad judgment that characterized her foreign policy decision-making as secretary of state,” he added. “The United States should not be helping fund the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and Hillary Clinton needs to disavow these secret payments immediately.”
Meanwhile, Republicans and the establishment media have all but ignored a claim by Iran that it is due compensation for damages caused by the CIA’s 1953 coup overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh. In May, the Iranian parliament voted on a bill demanding compensation for “spiritual and material” damages. The CIA has admitted it sponsored the coup that put Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in power. He was overthrown during the Iranian revolution in 1979.
The Iranians are seeking compensation for 17,000 victims of assassination, the “martyrdom” of 223,600 soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and damages for “blocking, confiscating or seizing of assets belonging to Iranian government, organizations or public and state-owned organizations and officials of Iran,” USA Today reported on May 17.
During the Reagan administration, the United States provided Iraq with highly classified intelligence and sold Saddam Hussein weapons used in the war he launched against Iran. The CIA did not inform the Senate and House Intelligence Committees it had passed on the intelligence.
The United States played both sides in order to inflict maximum damage on the two rival nations. Reagan secretly signed off on a deal allowing Israel to sell several billion dollars’ worth of American arms and spare parts to Iran.
It is estimated more than 700,000 people were killed in the eight year war.