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Ties Between US Payment To Iran And Prisoner Release Get Stronger

A new Wall Street Journal report says Iran couldn't take the U.S.' settlement money until Iran released the American prisoners it was holding.

By Grant Suneson | August 17, 2016

A new report from The Wall Street Journal is further muddying the waters surrounding a large cash payment to Iran and the release of American prisoners.

U.S. officials told the Journal that Iran wasn't allowed to take control of the $400 million in cash until three Americans being held by Iran were released, which casts doubt on the Obama administration's account of the deal. 

SEE MORE: Obama Is Over People Thinking That Iran Money Was For Ransom

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For those who aren't familiar, the Obama administration agreed to pay Iran $1.7 billion for a 1979 arms deal. The U.S. government never delivered the arms it promised because of the start of the Iranian Revolution. 

The Obama administration decided to settle the debt, saying the U.S. would likely lose the international court case surrounding the payment.

The White House had maintained the two negotiations happened in two different diplomatic channels. But if one deal was contingent on another, that could make it seem like the U.S. paid to rescue prisoners from a hostile foreign nation.

The exchange has become a partisan scandal, with Republican lawmakers accusing the U.S. government of paying Iran ransom to release the hostages. 

The Obama administration denied those claims, saying it was a coincidence that the payment and prisoner release happened so close together.

"Some of you may recall, we announced these payments in January. ... This wasn't some nefarious deal," President Obama said in a press briefing.

Republicans aren't buying the explanation. Rep. Sean Duffy requested U.S. Treasury and Justice Department records related to the transfer, and Republican leaders are planning to hold hearings on the deal when Congress reconvenes in September.

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