Blinken: Cash Payment to Iran Could Fund Terrorism

September 7, 2016

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that U.S cash payments to Iran as part of the nuclear deal could potentially be used by Tehran to fund terrorism.

Cuomo referenced a Wall Street Journal article published Tuesday night that details how the U.S. sent $1.3 billion in foreign currency to Iran after paying Tehran an initial $400 million, which he called the first real accounting figure of the nuclear accord. Cuomo then asked Blinken whether he could verify this figure

"Well, I haven’t seen the report," Blinken said. "But here’s what's going on. We achieved a nuclear deal with Iran to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon. That’s made us safer. It made countries around the world safer. Part of that involved lifting sanctions on Iran and that freed up money that had been frozen around the world that Iran had in bank accounts that it couldn’t bring back to Iran."

Blinken then said the majority of that money was going back into Iran’s economy, not the military.

"How do we know?" Cuomo asked.

"We know. We’ve seen it," Blinken said. "We see what they’re saying. We see how they are spending it and what they’ve told us. But also what we see is that instead of going to the military, the money is being poured back into the economy because this is an economy that was suffering terribly."

Cuomo asked Blinken whether the State Department could guarantee the American people that terrorist organizations like Lebanese Hezbollah would not receive a single dollar.

"We can’t say that not one single dollar will go there. What we can say based on what we’ve seen so far is that virtually all of it is going into the economy, not the military," Blinken said.

Blinken also said in the interview that he believes the conversation about the United States shipping money over to Iran on a plane is political spin.

Donald Trump’s campaign seized upon the Wall Street Journal’s report on Tuesday night through a statement from Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller.

"Hillary Clinton’s support for President Obama’s approach to Iran, including the deeply flawed nuclear deal she helped spearhead, reflects the same bad judgment that characterized her foreign policy decision-making as Secretary of State," Miller said in the statement. "The United States should not be helping fund the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and Hillary Clinton needs to disavow these secret payments immediately."