US Congress denounces 'ransom' payments to Iran in new bill

The Washington Post called the bill "a rebuke of the Obama administration's decision to send Tehran what Republicans charge was a 'ransom' on the same day American prisoners were released."

September 23, 2016 09:50
1 minute read.

US Congress.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The United States House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to ban cash payments to Iran, which The Washington Post called "a rebuke of the Obama administration's decision to send Tehran what Republicans charge was a 'ransom' on the same day American prisoners were released."

The vote passed 254 to 163, almost directly along party lines, according to the Post. The bill bars the United States from paying Iran "cash of any kind" and specifies that the US will not pay to "ransom or release prisoners." Further, the bill demands that the US administration justify any payments to Iran, prove that they are not ransom payments, and give Congress 30 days' advance notice before finalizing transactions between Iran and the US.

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The administration has already mentioned vetoing the measure, the Post reported.

Iran released four American prisoners in January, concurrent with a transfer of $400 million from the US to Tehran. Although US officials claimed the funds were an initial payment of a settlement over a disputed arms deal, many have theorized it was ransom for the prisoners.

Tensions between the US and Iran have been high in recent months following several naval incidents. At Wednesday's UN General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed "Zionist pressure groups" for continued sanctions against Iran and the seizure of Iranian assets, threatening that if the Washington does not follow through with its commitments under the nuclear agreement, it will lead to the discrediting of the US.

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