Kerry defends $400 million payment to Iran, says United States pays no ransoms

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US President Barack Obama denied that a US$400 million cash payment made to Iran earlier this year was ransom to secure the release of four Americans jailed in Tehran.

Ransom payments are against US government policy, as President Barack Obama stated on Wednesday, and as both the White House and State Department emphasized in briefings Wednesday and Thursday.

The payment, which was reported in January by various news outlets, came as the United States sought to settle financial claims with Iran around the time that Iran was implementing, together with the United States and five other major world powers, the sanctions relief for nuclear rollback deal.

The Wall Street Journal reports that $400 million in cash that the administration secretly air lifted to Iran coincided with the release of four American hostages from Tehran.

"While Israel's view on the Iran deal remains unchanged.it firmly believes that Israel has no greater ally than the United States", said the statement released by the premier's office.

There's absolutely nothing shady about the Obama administration's decision to award $1.7 Billion in taxpayer dollars to the terrorist state of Iran.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu looks forward to further strengthening the alliance between Israel and the United States with President Obama and with the next USA administration", it added. "We do not pay ransom for hostages".

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So everyone of our allies now will face the likely prospect of similar ransom demands - not only by Iran, but every other radical Islamic group looking for a quick cash infusion to promote terrorism in the West.

"Now, the President at the time said the following, quote: 'Since 1981, after our nations severed diplomatic relations, we've worked through an worldwide tribunal to resolve various claims between our countries".

Krauthammer called the move "highly embarrassing" and reacted to Obama's comments, saying "I have to admit, he's rather good with words, he made it sound like this had just completely natural". The president said a number Americans are held hostage around the world.

Obama also answered political questions at the news conference, pushing back at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's suggestions that the November election might be rigged, calling the assertion "ridiculous".

Schanzer noted that the Iranian interpretation of the payment as a ransom could be the reason why the Islamic Republic has arrested two more US citizens since the transaction. But the disagreement over the money dates back decades, and it appeared likely that a Hague commission that oversees competing claims between the USA and Iran would have ordered the return of the money, plus a larger amount of interest, had there been no settlement.

The payment has revived allegations from critics of the Iran nuclear deal.

"I'm not confident that we can trust the Russians and Vladimir Putin", Obama said.

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