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Report: Obama administration tried to give Iran access to U.S. financial system

Obama
Former President Barack Obama speaking on the Iran deal. Photo: Pete Maravich-Pool/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An investigation from Senate Republicans indicates the Obama administration secretly sought to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system for a brief period after the 2015 nuclear deal despite telling Congress it had no plans to, reports the AP.

The big picture: The administration was attempting to strike a deal to ensure Iran received benefits promised to it while opponents of the deal argued the United States was too willing to give and could be used to fund Iran's extremism.

Yes, but: "Issuing the license was not illegal. Still, it went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement."

What they're saying:

  • Former Obama officials said "the decision to grant the license had been made in line with the spirt of the deal, which included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of the sanctions."
  • "They said public comments made by the Obama administration at the time were intended to dispel incorrect reports about nonexistent proposals that would have gone much farther by letting Iran actually buy or sell things in dollars."

The details: The deal would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion worth of Omani rials to euros by exchanging them into U.S. dollars first.

  • That would've been a violation of a sanction that bars Iran from transactions touching the U.S. financial system.
  • The administration approached two U.S. banks about the transaction, but because they feared falling victim to U.S. sanctions, they declined to participate.