The Obama administration transferred an additional $1.3 billion in cash to Iran just weeks after completing a $400 million cash payment to the Islamic Republic earlier this year.
President Obama received extensive criticism earlier this month for the $400 million the U.S. airlifted in pallets of cash to Iran in January at the same time four American prisoners were released from Tehran. Critics, including senior Justice Department officials who opposed the transfer, feared Iran would view the cash transfer as a ransom payment.
U.S. policy prohibits giving ransoms to hostage-takers.
The first $400 million payment was part of a $1.7 billion settlement over a failed arms deal from 1979, before the Iranian Revolution.
While the Obama administration previously confirmed the first installment, it was unclear whether the additional $1.3 billion had been transferred. A State Department official confirmed both cash payments to the Weekly Standard on Tuesday.
"Iran received the balance of $400 million in the Trust Fund as well as roughly $1.3 billion representing a compromise on the interest," Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield wrote in a letter to Congress dated March 17, 2016.
A State Department official told the Weekly Standard that the $1.3 billion payment was made prior to Frifield’s March letter.
Obama said during a press conference earlier this month that the U.S. had to send Iran cash because "we don’t have a banking relationship with Iran … we couldn’t send them a check." Due to U.S. sanctions, the second payment of $1.3 billion was likely completed in cash.
Republican nominee Donald Trump has called the payments a "disgrace" on the campaign trail.