CATF Reports Oct. 14, 2016, 10:33am

As far as the U.S. is concerned, the international ballistic missile embargo against Iran was unofficially but practically dismantled in a hotel in Geneva on January 17, a day after five American citizens imprisoned in Iran were released. As exclusively reported by the Wall Street Journal on September 29, according to U.S. officials two American and Iranian government representatives had then secretly finalized a written agreement that bound the release of those U.S. citizens by Tehran to three conditions. The first two – the U.S. dropping criminal charges against 21 Iranian nationals and a $1.7 billion cash transfer as a reimbursement for military equipment the U.S. bought before the 1979 revolution but never delivered – had surfaced over the past months. Notably, the WSJ revealed that the third condition of the agreement consisted of the U.S.’s promise to back the UN Security Council’s delisting of two prominent Iranian state banks, Bank Sepah and its London-based subsidiary Bank Sepah International, which had been sanctioned until 2023 for financing Iran’s ballistic-missile program.

On January 17, 2016 the UN Security Council announced that Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International were removed from its sanction list after ascertaining that “Iran has completed necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of a plan of action aiming to resolve the nuclear issue.” Especially in light of the most recent WSJ revelations, there is no question that the overlapping timing of the delisting with other U.S. concessions to Teheran was prearranged. Last Friday, reporters confronted Brett McGurk, the U.S. President’s Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State, over rumors suggesting that the date of the documents signed in Geneva was changed by a day to deflect speculations over the suspicious timing of the agreements. McGurk’s evasive response seems to confirm the WSJ findings.

Therefore, on January 17, not only did Washington provide a leading state sponsor of terrorism with $400 million in cash – badly needed, easy to transfer, and impossible to trace; by compelling the UN to delist the two prominent Iranian banks the U.S. immediately released pressure off Teheran for a serious commitment to the terms of the nuclear deal, and showed that the supposedly incremental solution for Iran’s reinstatement in the international banking system was ultimately farcical.

From the October 7 U.S. Department of State’s Special Briefing:

QUESTION: All right. And then – okay. And then my second is unrelated, but it’s come up over and over and over again, and I just want to get your take on it because it involves you personally, and that is, you’ve seen the report about the – these three documents that are sitting up on the Hill in this SCIF and that were – relate to the Iran deal and the Bank Sepah and the prisoners being released. And it is alleged or said that the date on the original was the January 16th, and that was scratched out and the 17th was written instead. Can you explain – is that true? And secondly, can you explain why?

MR MCGURK: What I can really say about that is, of course, as I think’s been discussed many times here by John and others, we had a number of strands of diplomacy come together at the exact same time on the same day and we had a very difficult 24 hours with the Iranians to finalize the prisoner trade. So a number of things were going on. We wanted to get a lot of business done the same day. There were a number of documents signed on that final day. And so, that’s really what happened that final day.

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