Over the weekend, Iran released four American prisoners in a swap with American authorities. In return for releasing 7 Iranian “sanctions violators” and ending investigations into 14 more, Iran gave back wrongly held American citizens, including a Washington Post journalist, who had recently been the subject of a show trial, and a pastor arrested for building Christian churches.
Although everyone was overjoyed at the prospect of their return, I don’t think I was alone in wondering what, exactly, Iran was getting in for their de facto hostages other than just a homecoming for some low-level criminals, two thirds of whom had yet to be caught. It turns out, Iran was actually awarded the Powerball jackpot: a $1.7 billion winfall – a settlement for money the US owes to Iran for various reasons. And it’s the first of many possible winfalls. Because, of course it is.
This is the latest of a series of important settlements reached over the past 35 years at the Hague Tribunal. In constructive bilateral discussions, we arrived at a fair settlement to this claim, which due to litigation risk, remains in the best interests of the United States.
Iran will receive the balance of $400 million in the Trust Fund, as well as a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest. Iran’s recovery was fixed at a reasonable rate of interest and therefore Iran is unable to pursue a bigger Tribunal award against us, preventing U.S. taxpayers from being obligated to a larger amount of money.
Obviously, the Administration hasn’t acknowledged any connection, other than to say, when the prisoners were released, that there was a settlement negotiated with the Iranian authorities. Whether that “settlement” included the billion or so dollars we’re sending their way now is, of course, open to interpretation.