Omri Ceren, the Managing Director for Press and Strategy at The Israel Project (TIP), reported on Thursday the $1.7 billion paid to the Iranian regime during the release of US hostages directly boosted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful security and military organization.
On Jan 16 Iranian and then U.S. sources revealed Iran had released four of the American hostages it had been holding [a]. At the same time the U.S. transferred $1.7b to Iran, released 7 Iranians jailed for illicit activities, dropped charges against another 14 who were being pursued, and made additional concessions that journalists subsequently revealed.
The White House declared the swaps were diplomatic victories that boosted American security and Secretary Kerry praised Iranian FM Zarif for assisting in the diplomacy [b][c].
But there were immediate indications that some parts of the deal – though not necessarily the $1.7b transfer – boosted Iran’s military. Bloomberg View reported that two of the Iranians let off the hook had been targeted for helping the Iranian military boost Syrian dictator Assad [d]. Reuters reported that President Obama commuted the sentence of an Iranian national linked to Iran’s missile program and dropped a $10 million U.S. claim against him [e]. Weekly Standard reporter Lee Smith emphasized that the administration had paid off American victims of Iranian aggression and terrorism who had claims against Tehran [f].
Today’s Bloomberg View article by Eli Lake reveals that the $1.7b part of the transfer also directly boosted the IRGC, in addition to all of the IRGC-linked Iranians who were released or no longer pursued. The full article is pasted below. Key part:
Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, spotted the budget item. He told me the development was widely reported in Iran by numerous sources including the state-funded news services. “Article 22 of the budget for 2017 says the Central Bank is required to give the money from the legal settlement of Iran’s pre- and post-revolutionary arms sales of up to $1.7 billion to the defense budget,” he said.
The Obama administration has been opaque about nearly every detail of the transfer, slowplaying both journalists and Congress.