The optics of a move that may very well have been planned independently of a move by Iran to release 4 Americans it had held in prison could not have been worse. The latest controversy involves a shipment f $400 million in cash to Iran as part of a larger settlement over a late 1970s arms deal disrupted when the Sha of Iran was overthrown.
Among the 4 prisoners released in January was Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian minister who evidently was found guilty of preaching the Gospel.
The deal was coincident with the financial settlement very the arms deal, worked out in the Hague by technical experts, and the nuclear deal worked out n Geneva. The fact all three deals were worked out at the same time belies the notion they were not connected and raises suspicion, especially by opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran. Indeed US negotiators have acknowledged that for the Iranians there was a connection between all these deals but that each deal was worked out by a separate team.
Still the image in people’s minds of US officials getting together cash from Swiss and Dutch banks, stacking it on pallets, and secreting it via an unmarked plane into Iran just prior to the prisoner swap is unsettling. Iran also received 21 freed Iranians who had been convicted of crimes in the US for the 4 Americans.
Since the January prisoner swap, Iran has siezed three more Americans and since the nuclear deal Iran has all but renounced the veracity of the pact. Iran continues to pour millions into support terrorist groups and to undermine various nations and is the largest influence in Iraq now.