Last Thursday, speaking outside the World Economic Forum, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted what we already know to be true: that funds from Iran’s sanction relief will likely go to U.S. designated terrorist groups like the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). However, Kerry tried to mitigate reactions to his non-news by claiming that the U.S. would not tolerate any evidence that Iran was funding terrorist groups, that funds donated to terrorist organizations would not be sizable, and that the “money isn't going to make a difference.” Kerry further reassured us that there is no current evidence of Iran funding terrorist groups: "Right now, we are not seeing the early delivery of funds going to that kind of endeavor at this point in time." The problem is that, contrary to Kerry’s claims, the funds being donated to terrorist groups are sizable; the money does make a difference; and there is evidence that Iran is delivering funds to terrorist groups.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal estimates that $100 billion will be released to Iran from foreign banks as a result of sanction relief. $1.7 billion will be given to Iran from the U.S. in an alleged effort to settle a court claim from the 1970s. U.S. funds to Iran include an initial $400 million (that the U.S. owed to the Shah for the purchase of U.S. arms before the Iranian Revolution) and 1.3 billion in interest. Ironically, $1.7 billion is the exact same amount that U.S. courts recently awarded, in 2012, to victims of Iranian terror attacks (the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing). Sanctions against Iran meant that there was no way to force the country to pay that $1.7 billion to victims; but sanction relief means that court settlements are back on the table. The WSJ, smelling a rat, not only because of the coincidence in the $1.7 billion value but also because of the fact that the money we own Iran would rightfully belong to the government of the Shah and not Khamenei, suggests that this $1.7 billion is being paid to Iran as a reimbursement for future losses. If true, then Obama and Kerry have just agreed to let U.S. taxpayers pay reparations on Iranian terrorist attacks from the 1980s to the 1990s.
"US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a Special Address" | World Economic Forum website
In addition to this suspicious behavior, fourteen Iranian arms smugglers have just been removed from earlier issued arrest warrants, including two people suspected of using Mahan Air to fly arms back and forth, from Tehran to Syria, in an effort to support Bashar Assad’s regime. Despite the fact that the U.S. Treasury has threatened sanctions against the airline, it continues to fly the same routes. But perhaps the most distressing news is the fact that three U.S. contractors have just been kidnapped in Iraq by one of three suspected Shiite militias. All three of these militias receive training and funding from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, that same terrorist group that Kerry cited as a potential beneficiary of newly released funds to Iran. That same beneficiary who Kerry swears is, "already complaining that they are not getting the money." The White House’s appeal to Iran for mediation has not, as yet, been successful.
The four events discussed here: the $1.7 billion that the U.S. is about to give to Iran, the pardoning of known Iranian arms dealers, the refusal to impose sanctions against an airline suspected of carrying weapons to Assad, and the kidnapping of U.S. contractors, all happen almost simultaneously as sanctions are lifted on Iran. Indeed, these events throw every one of Kerry’s statements, made in a recent press conference, into question. These are early days to estimate the historical outcome of this deal with Iran. But, so far, things aren’t looking good.