Former Iranian president to Obama: Return seized $2b
Louis Nelson, Politico, Aug 8 2016
Former Pres Ahmadinejad wants more of his country’s money back. In a letter to Obama made public Monday, Ahmadinejad asked Pindostan to unfreeze $2b in Iranian foreign currency reserves that were seized from bank accounts in New York earlier this year. The call from Iran’s hard-line former president comes as Obama is already under fire for having delivered a $400m cash payment to Iran last January, money that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and others have suggested amounts to a ransom payment for American hostages released around the same time. According to an AGP report, Ahmadinejad’s letter criticized Obama for initially promising to warm relations between Pindostan and Iran while “the same hostile policies along with the same trend of enmity were pursued.” The former Iranian president called on Obama to return the $2b to Iran rather than use the money to compensate the family members of victims of the 1983 bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. The Supreme Court ruled in April that the seized money could be paid out to those families and others who were victimized by other incidents for which Iran is believed to be responsible, but the Iranian government has appealed that decision to the International Court of Justice. Ahmadinejad said in his letter:
I passionately advise you not to let the historical defamation and bitter incident be recorded under your name.
Obama spent much of his pre-summer vacation press conference last week working to debunk the notion that the $400m January cash payment to Iran was improper in any way. He said the timing of the payment, sent to settle a debt that predated Iran’s Islamic revolution over military equipment, was purely coincidental. Face-to-face meetings between Pindosi and Iranian leaders over a nuclear agreement offered an opportunity “to clear accounts on a number of issues at the same time,” the president said, which led to the release of hostages and the cash payment. The president went on to say that outcry from Thugs over the payment in the midst of a contentious presidential election amounted to little more than “the manufacturing of outrage.”