Trump stumbles into error on Iran amid cash transfer row

Donald Trump ripped at news on Wednesday that the US transferred $400 million in cash funds to Iran last January alongside Tehran’s release of four American hostages and implementation of its landmark nuclear agreement with world powers.

But the Republican presidential nominee stumbled into error in doing so, accusing Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, of beginning talks over the money delivery.

As secretary of state, Clinton approved secret negotiations with Iran that ultimately led to a nuclear agreement announced last year. But this particular money transfer is unrelated to that deal.

The $400 million was part of a decades-old legal dispute between the US and Iran, under litigation at the Hague, over an arms deal that was never completed after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran’s last shah had submitted payment for arms which were never delivered.

But the settlement of that dispute appeared timed with Iran’s release of Americans held on tenuous legal grounds. And a report from The Wall Street Journal detailing the transfer– cash was flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, on the day of the prisoner release– has resurfaced debate over whether negotiations on the Hague tribunal settlement and the prisoner release were intertwined.

The Obama administration announced the tribunal agreement back in January.

“Who gets the money? I doubt it’s the people of Iran,” Trump said on the campaign trail in Florida on Wednesday, calling the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, “dismaying” and “humiliating.” Earlier, the candidate said on Twitter that Clinton, as an “incompetent” secretary of state, “was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran.”

“Scandal!,” he wrote.

Trump has erred in discussing the Iran deal in the past, which he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee back in March that he knows better than “anybody.” While Trump said the JCPOA requires the US come to Iran’s aid should the state be attacked, the agreement includes no such requirement.

One provision does encourage all parties to the deal, “as appropriate,” to coordinate on preventing sabotage of Iran’s civilian nuclear infrastructure.


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