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Secret Obama-era permit let Iran convert funds to dollars
by Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — After striking an elusive nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration found itself in a quandary in early 2016: Iran had been promised access to its long-frozen overseas reserves, including $5.7 billion stuck in an Omani bank.
To spend it, Iran wanted to convert the money into U.S. dollars and then euros, but top U.S. officials had repeatedly promised Congress that Iran would never gain access to America's financial system.
Those assurances notwithstanding, the Obama administration secretly issued a license to let Iran sidestep U.S. sanctions for the brief moment required to convert the funds through an American bank, an investigation by Senate Republicans released Wednesday showed. The plan failed when two U.S. banks refused to participate.
Yet two years later, the revelation is re-igniting the bitter debate over the nuclear deal and whether former President Barack Obama was too eager to grant concessions to Tehran.
"The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who chairs the Senate panel that conducted the investigation.