August 22, 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding answers on the Obama administration's $1.7 billion settlement with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. In the letter, Blunt asks Kerry to provide a detailed accounting of the $400 million in hard currency the administration paid to Iran on January 17, which the State Department recently admitted was linked to the release of American hostages.
“While your agency continues to deny it made a ransom payment to secure the release of American hostages, the facts clearly suggest otherwise,” Blunt said in the letter. “Your apparent dishonesty regarding the timing of the settlement has consequently cast serious doubt on the answers you provided regarding the source of funds that were used to pay off the Iranian regime.”
On January 29, the week after the American hostages were released, Blunt sent a letter to Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew asking whether U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to pay the $1.7 billion settlement. The State Department confirmed that taxpayers would be on the hook for the $1.3 billion in interest, but claimed the $400 million was paid from funds used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States, which was placed in a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) account prior to the severing of diplomatic ties in 1979. As Blunt noted in January, and again in today’s letter, that $400 million should have already been used to compensate American victims of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.
Blunt continued, “You have already admitted that U.S. taxpayers will be footing the bill for the $1.3 billion in interest on the FMS account. Given your other misleading statements, I have serious concerns that the $400 million you provided in hard currency to a terrorist regime will also come out of U.S. taxpayers' pockets. To that end, I request that you provide all of the quarterly statements of the original $400 million trust fund used by Iran that was held in the FMS account.”
Last week, Blunt blasted Kerry for misleading statements regarding the timing of the $400 million cash transfer. In a hearing held on February 24, under questioning by Blunt, Kerry denied any connection between the settlement and the prisoners’ release, claiming “we made it clear to [Iran] it had to be done on a separate track, it had to be completely separate, we weren’t going to tie it in, and we reached one agreement before we reached the other, so the answer is no.” That statement is contradicted by State Department spokesman John Kirby’s recent admission that “payment of the $400 million was not done until the prisoners were released.”
The full text of the letter is available here.