Videos & Speeches

Lots of things go on here in our nation's capital, in Washington, DC, that don't make sense to me. One of those things occurred about 10 days ago in which the Obama administration announced that it would pay $1.7 billion to Iran in settlement of a financial dispute dating back to the days of the Shah of Iran. That 1.7 billion was a payment to Iran for 400 million dollars that was held in escrow after the Shah's demise, fall from power and the remaining 1.3 billion dollars was to pay interest on that 400 million dollars.

And I think there are a number of reasons that this makes no sense. I would highlight perhaps the one that seems to me to be the least controversial or the most common sense. The problem is, a problem is that we have American citizens who have claims against Iran – actual judgments entered by a court of law determining that the country of Iran owes American citizens. The number that I am told is nearly 10 billion dollars in those judgments. 

What makes no sense to me is that we would agree, the Obama administration would agree to pay the Iran Government 1.7 billion dollars without concurrently resolving the issues of what Iran should pay United States citizens or withholding the payment of that 1.7 billion dollars until Iran pays American citizens the judgment amounts owed them for their country's terrorist acts. 

Why would we unilaterally pay Iran money that we may or may not owe them without resolving the issue of money that we know Iran owes to U.S. citizens? This makes no sense. You could have a broader conversation and discussion about this issue, I don't know that it’s necessary to go further to reach the conclusion that the Obama administration should not be doing this. You could also have a conversation about was this payment, 1.7 billion dollars, really was it ransom money? Was it paid because on the same day Americans were released from Iran captivity? You could have a discussion about whether or not we should be giving Iran any money at all as the largest supporter of terrorism and terrorism activity, the largest funder of terrorist activity around the globe. 

We know that in the Iran agreement related to nuclear weapons that the United States is releasing dollars to Iran. And we know, in fact it’s been admitted by administration officials, that we expect that money, in part, to be used to sponsor additional terrorist acts. Well, in addition to the flawed, mistaken agreement with Iran related to nuclear capabilities, we now are providing Iran another 1.7 billion dollars to use as they see fit, presumably with the ability – the admitted ability – to use that money to further terrorist acts around the globe, including against United States citizens.

Those discussions could be had: Was this ransom? Should we be giving Iran any money? But on the surface, you don't need to go further than, in my view, what ought to be easily agreed upon, which is no money to Iran until the claims of American citizens are paid by Iran. 

And I am on the Senate floor today to highlight to my colleagues that I have introduced legislation exactly to that effect: no money to Iran until the claims are paid to U.S. citizens by Iran. And I would encourage my colleagues to consider this legislation and join me in its sponsorship. It is Senate bill 2452. 

Mr. President, I thank you for the opportunity of bringing this issue to the attention. One more instance of which something that makes no sense to me that could be resolved with a firm statement by the U.S. Congress: Mr. President, you can't pay Iran until Iran meets its obligations to pay what it owes United States citizens.