Republican questions timing of $1.7 billion Iran payment, hostage
Send a link to a friend
[February 04, 2016]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A powerful
U.S. lawmaker on Wednesday demanded Secretary of State John Kerry
provide an explanation of a $1.7 billion claim settlement paid to Iran
just as Tehran released American prisoners last month.
Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives
Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote that the timing of the settlement
and the administration's failure to brief Congress "has led some to
express concern that the payment represents a de facto 'ransom' for
the release of American hostages."
Royce asked Kerry to provide by Feb. 17 information including lists
of all U.S. officials who participated in negotiations with Iran
over the settlement agreement, the prisoner release and the nuclear
agreement announced in July.
He also asked for legal analyses of the dispute, a timeline of
negotiations over the dispute and an explanation of how the interest
payment in the settlement was calculated, among other information.
On Jan. 17, the State Department said the United States and Iran had
settled a longstanding claim at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,
releasing to Tehran $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus
$1.3 billion in interest.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry would respond to
the letter. He did not offer further specifics on when and how.
"We can confirm receipt of Chairman Royce's letter, and as with all
Congressional correspondence, we'll respond as appropriate," Kirby
[to top of second column]
U.S. Republican lawmakers, who are strongly critical of Democratic
President Barack Obama's Iran policy, have been questioning the
payment for weeks. No Republican supported the nuclear agreement
when Congress had the opportunity to review it last year.
After the settlement was announced, Obama said it was a better
alternative than letting more interest accumulate while waiting for
a legal judgment.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.