US secretly ships $400 million to Iran in exchange for release of 4 citizens
The US sent the equivalent of $400 million in cash to Iran early this year as part of a prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that in January the Obama administration sent a cargo plane, carrying wooden boxes filled with various currencies from the central banks of Holland and Switzerland, to Tehran from one of the main airports in Europe. Iran had paid the US about $40 billion for military equipment before the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979 but it never received the equipment because of the Islamic revolution. In recent years Tehran sued the American government at the International Court of Justice in the Hague and won, but never received the money back. The two countries have now reached a compromise under which Iran will get back $1.7 billion from the US in the framework of the prisoner exchange and in the aftermath of Tehran's nuclear deal with Western powers. The January shipment was the first installment of the settlement. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the negotiations with the Iranians on settling the lawsuit was not connected whatsoever to the release of the US prisoners in Iran, and that the two issues were handled by two completely different negotiating teams.