The much smaller U.S.-Iranian agreement concerned more than $400 million in Iranian money, dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the end of diplomatic ties, which the U.S.-backed shah’s government used to buy American military equipment. The Iranians got that money back last weekend and some $1.3 billion in interest.
The administration said the settlement was decided on its merits, with officials arguing that Iran demanded more than $3 billion and, at some points during the talks, much more for an agreement.
Earlier this week, however, one Iranian military commander painted the payment in a different light. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, head of the Basij paramilitary wing of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, said the wiring of the funds was a payoff for letting the Americans go.
U.S. officials insist that’s not true.
“There was no bribe, there was no ransom, there was nothing paid to secure the return of these Americans who were, by the way, not spies,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner responded, referring to the charges that held each of the Americans in Iranian prison for years.