Live updates: Iran attacks bases housing US troops – CNN
President Trump moments ago repeated an oft-repeated assertion that Iran was “given $150 billion” by the 2015 nuclear agreement signed by the Obama administration.
Facts first: That figure is an exaggeration. And the money in question wasn’t American.
The US had agreed to unfreeze a significant sum of Iran’s assets that had been frozen in international financial institutions, predominantly outside the US, because of sanctions against Iran.
Trump did not pull the $150 billion figure out of thin air: Obama himself mused in a 2015 interview about Iran having “$150 billion parked outside the country.” But experts on Iran policy, and Obama’s administration, said that the quantity of assets the agreement actually made available to Iran was much lower.
In 2015, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew put the number at $56 billion. PolitiFact reported that Garbis Iradian, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance, put it at about $60 billion. Adam Szubin, a senior Treasury Department official, testified to Congress in 2015 that the “usable liquid assets” would total “a little more than $50 billion.” The rest of Iran’s foreign assets, he said, were either tied up in “illiquid” projects “that cannot be monetized quickly, if at all, or are composed of outstanding loans to Iranian entities that cannot repay them.”
Trump was more accurate on Wednesday when he claimed Iran had been given $1.8 billion “in cash.” The Obama administration did send Iran $1.7 billion — $400 million plus interest — to settle a decades-old dispute over a purchase of never-delivered US military goods Iran made before its government was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979.