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Cotton Demands Answers on Obama Administration’s Decision to Lift Sanctions on Iranian Bank in Apparent Ransom Deal with Iran

October 6, 2016

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353

Washington, D.C.- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew requesting the Obama administration provide to the Senate all assessments it performed of Iran's Bank Sepah and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Bank Sepah International Plc in the run-up to the administration's lifting of sanctions on those entities. This request is in response to statements made by the State Department's deputy spokesperson last week confirming that the department conducted an internal assessment of the consequences of lifting sanctions on a bank the Treasury Department has labeled "the financial linchpin of Iran's missile procurement network."

In the letter Senator Cotton outlines three concerns with Bank Sepah as it relates to sanctions relief:

  • First, Bank Sepah has long been the financial facilitator of Iran's illicit ballistic missile procurement efforts, a program whose sole purpose is to create delivery systems for nuclear weapons.
  • Second, the sanctions relief may have constituted a major component of a ransom payment paid to Iran in exchange for the release of five U.S. hostages earlier this year.
  • Third, the decision to lift these sanctions is a direct violation of the Iran nuclear deal under Annex V of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Senator Cotton requests an immediate response to his inquiry. Click here to read the full text of the letter.