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Republicans call for inquiry into whether Obama paid ‘ransom’ to Iran

Ethan Mercer | 1/24/2016

Following the Obama administration’s decision to pay $1.7 billion to Iran to settle a long pending claim, GOP lawmakers are considering calling for an inquiry into whether the sum was actually paid as a ransom for the return of American detainees. This comes in wake of republican’s staunch opposition to the Obama administration’s foreign policy towards Iran, especially the handling of Tehran’s nuclear program and the negotiations that took place to return several American prisoners.

This $1.7 billion dollar payment was for $400 million paid by Iran to the US for weapons that were never delivered during the Iranian revolution from 1979-1981. The White House has returned the $400 million, plus an additional $1.3 billion in interest. 

President Obama said that in actuality, billions were probably saved by choosing to settle instead of waiting for a judgement.

The timing of the payment, coinciding very close to the release of American sailors held by Iran, leads Republicans to seek a reckoning from the state department over actions that could lead to groups seeking to capture Americans in the future.

Paul Ryan (R-Wis) was the first to describe the transaction as a ransom, but no decisions to launch an official inquiry have yet been made. These types of multidimensional deals are not unheard of, and there is precedent, such as sending medical supplies to Cuba during the Bay of Pigs crisis.

Brian Jenkins, an expert on prisoner exchanges, categorizes the exchange as a category of diplomacy more than a ransom.

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