State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau Comments on $1.3 Billion Interest Payment to Iran (Excerpts)

August 24, 2016


QUESTION: Likewise. To the subject of the payments to Iran.


QUESTION: You were quoted in the Associated Press today as having confirmed the manner of payment for the remaining 1.3 billion in interest and, in fact, the timing that those payments. What can you tell us?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So I can confirm that the foreign claims payments made from the judgment fund on January 19th do represent the payment of approximately 1.3 billion in interest in connection with the Hague Tribunal settlement payment. For further details, I will have to refer you to the Treasury Department, but we did owe you that answer.

QUESTION: And this was broached in yesterday’s briefing to some extent, but there is an obvious difference, which I think even from the podium you would be willing to concede, between the manner of payment of the 400 million and the manner of payment for the remaining interest. What accounts for that difference?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, we do make a practice of not commenting publicly on transactions, including settlement payments, due to the confidential nature of those payments and to respect the privacy of our international partners. In terms of the payment mechanics – and I know it’s unsatisfying – I am going to have to refer you to Treasury to speak to those mechanics.

QUESTION: But you’ve already violated that rule in commenting, for example, about the leverage you sought to exert with the manner of the first payment and the timing of it. Did you not comment publicly on that as a department?

MS TRUDEAU: So we did talk about the juxtaposition of these payments coming in, our priority in getting our unlawfully detained Americans released, as well as the Hague settlement, so you’re correct.

QUESTION: The staggering of the payments such that each would be just under $100 million – that was kind of odd, was it not?

MS TRUDEAU: I can’t speak to that, James. I really can’t. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: But you’re not denying that that was the case?

MS TRUDEAU: I just don’t have enough knowledge that I can actually adequately answer your question.

QUESTION: Can I ask one follow-up on this?


QUESTION: You pointedly noted that it was approximately $1.3 billion in interest that was paid out.


QUESTION: Just to go to Matt’s question from yesterday, what about the other 13 cents? And did they actually get that or not? (Laughter.)

MS TRUDEAU: I think that is a question for Treasury.

QUESTION: That’s wonderful that you say that, but when we go to Treasury and ask, they say “no comment.” So referring us to an agency that is not inclined to provide any answers is kind of disingenuous, I think, for one. Secondly, what is this privacy that foreign governments enjoy?

MS TRUDEAU: So it’s actually confidentiality for international transactions.

QUESTION: But you put it up on a website.

QUESTION: You paid it, right? This is a payment from the United States --

MS TRUDEAU: You guys --

QUESTION: -- to the Iranians, right?

MS TRUDEAU: I actually can’t speak to that. I absolutely can’t verify that. I believe you’re referring to a document on Treasury’s website. I do understand your concern. I just can’t speak to it.

QUESTION: No, no, I – it’s not my concern; it’s my inability to understand how it is that governments have an expectation of privacy – which is the word you used, not confidentiality.

MS TRUDEAU: I’m sorry. Then I misspoke – its confidential nature.

QUESTION: Does the United States consider that this financial dispute, the 13 cents notwithstanding, is fully resolved?


QUESTION: Different subject.

QUESTION: So hold on a minute, just --

MS TRUDEAU: Or wait, hold on. Let’s --

QUESTION: When – and when you – when you’re speaking of the payments that are listed on the – on that website, you’re talking about the ones for 99,999,999, and that the thirteen of those, and the one for 10-point-roughly-4 million. Correct?

MS TRUDEAU: The 400 million was paid into the trust fund that was paid out because it was Iran’s money.

QUESTION: No, yeah, I know.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. Okay.

QUESTION: I’m talking about the judgment – the – when you say --

MS TRUDEAU: The judgment fund.

QUESTION: You’re talking the judgment fund. Everything on the 19th that says “foreign claims” --

MS TRUDEAU: Was made from the judgment.

QUESTION: Right. And that was the interest for Iran. But that means that’s the 13 payments of the 99,999,999, and the one for the 10.39 – roughly 10.4. Right?

MS TRUDEAU: It’s going beyond my level of knowledge, Matt. I’m sorry, I just can’t answer that.

QUESTION: Well, you just said that --

MS TRUDEAU: So it’s my understanding that those --

QUESTION: -- every single payment --

MS TRUDEAU: -- foreign claim payments made on January 19th --

QUESTION: Every single one of them?



MS TRUDEAU: -- were made from the judgment fund.

QUESTION: So after you get through the ones with all the 9s --


QUESTION: -- and you get to the other one, which was 10.4, and you add that on, it’s actually more than 1.3 billion.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. You’re asking me to go through payments that I am unable to do so.

QUESTION: Just a quick one on this.


QUESTION: The – it’s a technical question. I want just – I can’t understand; I am so dumb. That you are saying about the confidential – you are respecting the confidentiality of the other nation. What --

MS TRUDEAU: Of international partners.

QUESTION: Yeah, but what about the people – that money has been paid from the U.S. taxpayers. And as a U.S. taxpayer, am I not supposed to know where the money is going, how it is going? Is that not worth giving it to the U.S. citizens?

MS TRUDEAU: I think you know, as the President spoke on January 18th, as the Secretary made clear, the resolution of the Hague settlement was in fact in the best interest of the U.S. taxpayer. In terms of the mechanics of this, what is made public, I can’t speak to from this podium.