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Iran Plays Hardball with (Yet Another) Western Arrest

Iran convicted UK dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37-year old charity worker, who was in Iran visiting her family on charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime, sentencing her to five years in prison.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at the Imam Khomeini airport April 3 as she was leaving the country with her daughter Gabriella, who she had brought to the country on a holiday see relatives. Iranian authorities have also prevented Gabriella, who turned two since her mother’s arrest, from leaving the country. She has been in the care of her grandparents in Tehran. 

According to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Radcliffe, he received a call from his wife confirming the sentence. Radcliffe said his wife has suffered dangerous weight loss, lost some of her hair and has become virtually unable to wallk. 

The arrest and prosecution of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual UK-Iranian citizen, took place not only after the world powers made a nuclear deal with Iran – freeing up billions of dollars to the Islamic Republic in sanctions relief – but also during the time of increased détente between the two countries.

The UK announced last summer that it was reopening its embassy in Tehran, four years after it was stormed by protesters and just last week, a new ambassador was appointed.  

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was one of a number of Western dual-nationals that have been arrested by the regime since the signing of the agreement and the sanction relief experienced by the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Two American-Iranians have also been arrested as well as dual-nationals from France and Canada.

Meanwhile, as Iranian regime was busy arresting dual nationals visiting their loved ones in Iran, new reports have merged that Iran may have been the recipient of billions of dollars of payments in cash, gold and other precious metals made the U.S. from 2014 to 2016.

As reported by The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredoaccording to Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on sanctions against Iran, at least $11.9 billion was paid to Iran but the amount might have been as high as $33.6 billion.

After the disclosure that American paid Iran $1.7 billion in cash in connection with the release of Americans being held in Iran, calls have been made in Congress as well as others for a full disclosure by the Obama administration of a large number of payments made to Iran.

Although the administration initially claimed it was a settlement of an old debt having to do with arms sales promised to the Islamic Republic right before the revolution, Iran clearly perceived it as a ransom payment.

While the nuclear deal was being negotiated between January of 2014 and July of 2015, Dubowitz, who is also a professor at the University of Toronto, says that Iran was paid $700 million a month from money that had been frozen due to sanctions against Iran.

In his testimony, Dubowitz referred to a AP article that estimated that Iran “brought home less than $20 billion” in the years leading up to the nuclear agreement. “The administration should also clarify if the $20 billion dollars is inclusive of the $11.9 billion in [Joint Plan of Action] funds, or if the $20 billion was in addition to the $11.9 billion,” he said. “Either way, it is important to understand how funds were sent. The worst-case scenario here is that Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals,” he said.

Iran must be laughing all the way to the bank in how they are able to lap up billions of dollars while running up against no resistance – either for their murderous acts of worldwide terror or for their virtual kidnappings of ordinary citizens with dual nationalities merely in Iran to visit family members.

Outrageously and sadly, the kidnappings will allow them to keep up their fine-tuned practice of suckering the West into more payments and more concessions.

Western governments must forbid their foreign nationals to visit Iran and learn to play hardball to contain against the ayatollahs.

 

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

 

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