The U.S. payment of $400 million to Iran for what the White House describes as a ''longstanding financial dispute,'' coincided with the release of American hostages held in Iran. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A $400 million payout by the United States to Iran made in January was not a ransom for five American hostages released by Iran at the time, the White House said on Wednesday (August 3). White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described the payout as part of a "longstanding financial dispute" that the Wall Street Journal reported stemmed from a failed arms deal in 1979. Earnest said the Obama administration made the decision based on the desire to resolve multiple concerns with Iran. "There was a conscious strategic decision that was made on the part of the Obama administration as we were implementing the deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon to resolve other longstanding concerns that we had with Iran," Earnest said. "And that included securing the release of five American citizens who had been unjustly detained in Iran and closing out a longstanding financial dispute in a way that saved the American people potentially billions of dollars. This all came to a head at the same time."