US paid $1.3bn in interest on debt to Iran left over from Shah’s time, critics call it ‘ransom’

Two days after delivering $400 million in cash to Tehran to pay off a decades-old debt, the US paid $1.3 billion more to cover the interest, but Obama administration critics say the payment was essentially ransom for the release of US prisoners in January.

The debt dates back to the 1970s when the government of Iran paid the United States $400 million for military equipment that was never delivered because the revolution of 1979 ousted Iran’s US-friendly Shah, turning Tehran and Washington into bitter enemies. Amid the nuclear deal negotiations, the two countries agreed that the US would return the money – with interest. The total amounted to $1.7 billion.

READ MORE: Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian & 4 others freed in Iran prisoner swap deal

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the $400 million was delivered to Tehran in cash on January 17 – the same day Iran released three American prisoners. Critics claimed that the White House had essentially paid ransom for the hostages. The US State Department confirmed the link between the prisoner release and the payment, but insisted that the US had simply withheld the payment until the US citizens were set free in order to keep leverage over Tehran in case it tried to bail on the deal.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau confirmed on Wednesday that, two days after the cash delivery, the interest on the debt was paid as well. The $1.3 billion was transferred in 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99, with the final payment amounting to about $10 million.


“The $1.3 billion payment has been made. It was made through a transaction involving central banks but obviously not the US central bank because there are extensive restrictions on the financial relationship between the United States and Iran,” White House Press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this week.

US officials offered no explanation as to why the Treasury Department kept the individual transactions under $100 million, but Trudeau said the debt was considered settled by Iran, despite being 13 cents short.

According to AP, the money went through a third nation’s central bank, although Trudeau would not confirm this, citing the confidentiality of America’s international partners. The US has no banking relationship with Iran and cannot make financial transactions with Iranian institutions directly. President Obama cited this obstacle when explaining why the $400 million payment had been made in cash, though it was apparently not a problem when paying the interest on the debt.

The money came from the so-called Judgment Fund, which the Treasury Department uses for settling litigation claims and doesn’t require direct congressional approval for the president to tap.

The US is not the only nation with debts due to Iran that have lingered since the Shah’s times due to poor relations. Earlier this month, Switzerland’s highest court ordered Israel to pay Iran around $1.1 billion plus interest to settle a debt related to an oil pipeline company that the two nations had set up in the 1960s.

US warship ‘harassed’ by Iranian speedboats near Strait of Hormuz

The USS Nitze, a guided missile destroyer, was intercepted by four Iranian military boats near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, US defense officials said. The Iranians ignored attempts to communicate and acted in an “unprofessional” manner the US said.
The Nitze and guided missile destroyer USS Mason encountered the Iranians in international waters, where four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats approached the warships at high speed, Stars and Stripes reported.

The Nitze hailed the boats by radio 12 times with no response, the statement said. After two of the Iranian boats came closer, the US crew used its ship whistle and flares in an attempt to communicate with the Iranians, but those attempts were also ignored. The destroyer ultimately changed course to steer clear of the Iranian vessels.

The boats failed to respond to radio comms. #iran

A video posted by RT (@rt) on

The Iranians allegedly came as close as 300 yards (274 meters) of the Nitze during the encounter.

“These sorts of unsafe and unprofessional actions can lead to escalation and miscalculation, which may necessitate additional defensive measures,” said Commander Bill Urban, public affairs officer for US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). “Commanding officers have an inherent obligation for self-defense.”

Urban said some 10 percent of all US encounters with the Iranians in 2015 and 2016 have been similarly unsafe.


“The Iranian high rate of closure on a Unites States ship operating in accordance with international law while transiting in international waters along with the disregard of multiple warning attempts created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures by Nitze,” the NAVCENT statement said.

“We absolutely expect all maritime nations to act in a professional manner in accordance with international law,” Urban said. “The US Navy continues to remain vigilant, and is trained to respond in a professional manner for all interactions.”

Commenting on the incident, Iranian Defense Minister Hosein Dehghan said the nation’s forces patrol the area to protect its territorial waters.

“If any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront,” he told the semi-official Tasnim news agency

The Strait of Hormuz is a key maritime route, through which about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply flows. It’s also one of the places where the presence of the US Navy stirs tensions with regional stakeholders. Similar complaints about allegedly unprofessional behavior regularly come from the Pentagon over Chinese forces in the South China Sea and the Russia navy in the Black and Baltic Seas.


Spokesman grilled for half hour about cover up

Steve Watson | – AUGUST 19, 2016

In a remarkable exchange with the press corps, a State Department spokesman was berated and questioned for half an hour over blatantly obvious lies and deception concerning the Obama administration’s $400 million payment to Iran.

For the first time in seven months, State Department spokesman John Kirby admitted Thursday that it was a key part of the deal with Iran for American prisoners to be released, and without that provision, the Iranian government would not have received the money.

“In basic English, you’re saying that you wouldn’t give them the $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?” AP reporter Brad Klapper asked Kirby.
“That’s correct,” Kirby answered.

The Obama government has repeatedly claimed that the money was part of a settlement over a failed arms deal from 1979, and was not a ‘ransom’ payment.
Klapper continued the line of questioning, leading Kirby to make remarkable accusations against the press.

“Listen, this happened in January, and this is the first time you’ve ever said flat out that they [Iran] wouldn’t get the money until the prisoners were released,” Klapper said.

“That took, let’s count it, seven months. Why all the beating around the bush if it was such a great and noble decision?” the reporter probed.
“The only reason that we’re having this discussion is because of press coverage, Brad,” Kirby said.

“So, evil reporters have made you dredge this out?” Klapper asked.
“No, I’ve never called you guys evil. I’ve called you other things, but never evil,” Kirby joked, attempting to make light of the situation.

“You can’t blame press coverage because you didn’t say what this was seven months ago,” Klapper responded.

“We did describe it seven months ago, Brad,” Kirby said.

“You did not say it was contingent, this was contingent on that,” Klapper replied. “Now you’re saying flatly out that this was, this payment was contingent on the release of the prisoners. You did not say that in January.”

The questioning then turned to the State Department’s alleged attempt to cover up deception over the deal by deleting eight minutes of a 2013 State briefing from the official record.

An exchange between State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and Fox News reporter James Rosen was deleted after Psaki admitted that “there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress,” in other words, sometimes the government lies to conceal information.

Psaki and Rosen were referring to untrue comments made by another State Department official that there had been no official talks between Iran and the United States regarding a potential nuclear deal.

The State Department later claimed that the deleted portions of video were caused by a “glitch,” but then Kirby walked back that claim, saying that the video had been removed at the request of an unnamed government official.

After an investigation into the matter, Kirby claimed Thursday that there was no conclusive proof that the video was edited in order to deceive the American public, without ruling out the possibility.

“We aren’t sure whether it was done with intent to conceal or whether it was done as a result of a technical problem” Kirby said, claiming that a white flash could have been inserted into the already edited video in order to ‘inform’ the public that portions of it were indeed edited.

“If that were the case, don’t you think someone would come and admit that, rather than nobody of the 30 witnesses you interviewed can actually remember what happened?” Klapper questioned, adding “It seems like such a ridiculous explanation, it shocks me that you’re actually providing it here.”

“What you are telling us is that some unknown person called this technician to request that an edit that had in fact already been made by some unknown force be made again?” Rosen additionally asked.

“What I’m saying is, James, we do not know,” Kirby replied.

“In arriving at the conclusion that you’re unable to make a conclusion as to whether nefarious intent was involved here, it seems that nobody has taken into that assessment the actual content of the briefing that was actually erased or wound up missing, and so I want to ask you point blank: Doesn’t the content of the missing eight minutes tell us something about the intent?” Rosen asked.

“It just happens to be, in fact, the one time in the history of this administration, where a spokesperson stood at the podium and made statements that many, many people across the ideological spectrum have interpreted as a concession that the State Department will, from time to time, lie to preserve the secrecy of secret negotiations? That coincidence doesn’t strike you as reflective of some intent here?” Rosen added.

The State Department has clearly been caught in a web of lies and deception, as detailed in this report by CNN’s Jake Tapper, aired in June. Tapper outlines three big “lies” that he notes should “outrage every American.”

Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and

#PayToPlay: Hillary Clinton faces corruption scandal after links between donors & State Dept exposed

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who often lectured African countries about corruption as Secretary of State, now faces her own scandal for questionable ethics and the trending hashtag #PayToPlay.


A number of emails that the former first lady failed to turn over to the US government, but were released after a Freedom of Information Act request, show donors and associates of the Clinton Foundation and its Global Initiative seemingly having special access inside the State Department.

The conservative group Judicial Watch released 296 pages of unseen State Department records Tuesday, including 44 previously unreleased emails.


In 2009, the same year Hillary Clinton told Kenyans: “The government has to reform itself if Kenya will be all that it can be,”Clinton Foundation official Doug Band emailed her top aides at the time, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, stating that it’s“important to take care of [Redacted].”

Abedin replied to Band within 10 minutes, telling him that they “have all had him on our radar” and that “personnel has been sending him options.”

It is not known whose name has been redacted.


Band, who helped negotiate Hillary Clinton’s secretary of state job with the Obama administration, emailed Abedin and Mills a few days later, stating that “we need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance person re Lebanon. As you know, he’s a key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.”

Abedin responded a few hours later that the “substance person” is Jeffrey Feltman, who was the US ambassador to Lebanon at the time.

“I’m sure he knows him. I’ll talk to Jeff,” added Abedin.


Band replied again minutes later, urging her to phone Feltman quickly. “Now preferable. This is very important,” said Band.

The Gilbert Chagoury referred to in the emails is a billionaire businessman in Nigeria who has been at the center of a number of investigations and was convicted by Swiss authorities in 2000 for money laundering.


He is also a ‘FOB’ (“friend of Bill” Clinton) and contributed to various campaigns for both members of the power couple as well as up to $5 million to their foundation and a $1 billion pledge for their global initiative, according to ABC News.

Chagoury had trouble leaving the US in 2010 when he was found on the government’s “no-fly list,” although he was reportedly able to fly to France on a private jet after obtaining a waiver from Washington.

In 2015, Republican Senator David Vitter wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, stating that questions remained over whether Clinton’s relationship with Chagoury influenced the State Department’s decision against designating Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization while she was in office.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton’s wealthy donors revealed in Panama Papers

While Clinton’s campaign has said that “neither of these emails involve the secretary or relate to the Foundation’s work,” they have been described as further proof of the corruption Clinton has been involved in, particularly while in office.


The emails cover mainly the first three months of Clinton holding the office of Secretary of State – and precede those comments she made during a trip to a number of African countries in which she condemned government corruption.

Capture“True economic progress in Africa… also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law, and deliver results for their people,” Hillary Clinton said during a trade meeting with sub-Saharan countries according toReuters, a repeat of the message delivered the previous month by Obama in Ghana. “This is not just about good governance, this is about good business.”


Another email, dating from February 2009, also reveals Hillary Clinton requesting a meeting with Stephen Roach, then chairman of the Asian branch of Morgan Stanley and one of her big donors who had emailed her several days earlier.

Clinton tells Abedin to see if Roach can “come to embassy or other event” while she is in Beijing during an upcoming trip to Asia.


Judicial Watch noted that such communications are in breach of the ethics agreements that Clinton agreed to in order to be appointed secretary of state.

“I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party,” Hillary Clinton wrote in a letter to State Department Designated Agency Ethics Official James Thessin in January 2009.


“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”
Following the release of the emails, social media users have started using the hashtag “PayToPlay,” describing the content of the emails as further evidence of the corruption Clinton was involved in.