Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 1/19/2016
BY PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:06 P.M. EST
Q Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Josh. On Sunday, we learned that the United States made a payment to the government of Iran of $1.7 billion. Was this tied to the deal that led to the freedom of the Americans that were being held in Iran?
MR. EARNEST: Jon, this is actually the result of a long-running claims process that had been at The Hague. In 1979, there was obviously an Iranian revolution that abruptly severed relations between our two countries. And prior to that revolution, the U.S. government had entered into an agreement with the then-Iranian government to transfer about $400 million in military equipment to the Iranian government. Once the revolution took place, obviously that equipment was not transferred, but we also didn't return Iran’s money either. So that money essentially was held in what could, I think -- essentially in an escrow account. And for more than 30 years now, the Iranians have been using this claims process at The Hague to try to recover that $400 million.
This resolution that we agreed to was to return the $400 million and also to pay about $1 billion in interest. Now, the reason that this ends up being a very good deal for taxpayers is that our exposure, when it came to paying interest, could have been much higher. The Iranians were actually seeking $7 billion to $8 billion in interest payments. And I think that's an indication of how the interests of taxpayers were very well served by reaching this settlement.
All these briefings will be offline after the next President is inaugurated so here's a screen shot: