State Dept Spox: We Can’t Rule Out $400 Million Payment to Iran Will Be Used for Terrorism

August 3, 2016

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday the United States cannot rule out that the $400 million in cash the Obama Administration gave to Iran will be used to fund terrorist activities.

The administration airlifted $400 million to Iran in January as Tehran released four Americans it had detained, causing critics to call the payment ransom money, which the White House denies.

Blitzer asked Toner if there were any restrictions on how the Iranians could use the funds.

"Are there any restrictions on how the Iranians can use that $400 million?" he asked.

Toner said the cash is officially Iran’s money and he could not comment on any possible restrictions on it. He added that from what the United States government could see, the money has been used towards projects such as infrastructure improvement.

"I can’t speak to what restrictions that may be in place regarding that," he said. "That is Iran’s money. But, what we have seen, and I think some U.S. officials have spoken to this, is that the money has not been used–as far as we can see, for any nefarious purposes. It has been used for infrastructure improvement, development projects, et cetera."

He then pointed out that Iran could possibly use the money to conduct "bad behavior" in the Middle East.

"We haven’t seen it used," he said. "Now, we can’t rule that out again because we’ve seen Iran continue to exercise bad behavior in the region. We can’t change that overnight."

Blitzer noted that the Iranian government "has still been providing military financial aid" to groups that the U.S. considers terrorist organizations or destabilizing forces, such as Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria, among others.

Toner said this was true and the U.S. has seen this behavior continue.

He then explained that the $400 million was a settlement payment.

"But again, this was a settlement of a claim that, frankly, had the tribunal settled it, might have gone more in Iran’s favor and cost the Americans taxpayers more money," he said.

"These are claims that are outstanding from the downfall of the government in 1979," Toner said.