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The deal, Nicholson declared, had "handed billions of dollars of cash on cargo planes, sent it to a state sponsor of terror, and Tammy Baldwin was one of the first U.S. senators to get on board and support that."
He mostly misses.
About three weeks before Nicholson made the radio claim, Trump announced the United States would pull out of the nuclear pact with Iran and re-impose sanctions on Tehran, saying the deal failed to contain the regime’s nuclear ambitions and regional meddling.
The easy part of Nicholson’s claim to check is Iran’s connection to terrorism. Iran has been on the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1984. Those countries (Iran, Sudan, Syria and North Korea) have been determined to have "repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism."
But let’s get to the thrust of Nicholson’s claim -- that the deal merely "handed billions of dollars of cash on cargo planes" to Iran and that Baldwin was one of the first senators to support it.
The deal, struck in July 2015 under President Barack Obama, was with Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union. It was aimed at making it harder for Iran to make a nuclear bomb. The deal restricted certain Iranian nuclear activities for periods between 10 to 25 years, and allowed for more intrusive, permanent monitoring. It also prohibited Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons in the future.
So, it wasn’t just merely turning over cash to Iran.
Latest Kevin Nicholson fact checks:
"Tammy Baldwin cosponsored legislation that wanted to establish the Department of Peace and Nonviolence." Mostly True.
As part of the deal, Iran did get access to tens of billions of dollars in assets — but the vast majority of those assets are Iran’s own money.
And what cash was delivered on a plane was far less than billions.
The deal released Iranian assets frozen under a variety of sanctions. The assets, cash in the bank, real estate or something else, belonged to Iran in the first place. The total value — worldwide — of freed Iranian assets was about $56 billion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
According to the U.S. State Department, Iran received about $1.7 billion from the United States — $400 million plus interest. The payment was indirectly linked to the nuclear deal. The money was legally due to Iran. The country had paid America for military equipment in 1979, but the Iranian revolution came and the hardware was never delivered.
Many news organizations reported the delivery of the $400 million in an unmarked cargo plane after American officials were certain that three Americans held in Iran were on their way home. It is not known how the remaining $1.3 billion made its way to Iran.
As for Baldwin’s backing of the Iran deal, she wasn’t among the first. Her campaign cited reports showing that Baldwin announced her support on Aug. 7, 2015 — after 13 other senators had done so.
Nicholson says the Iran deal "handed billions of dollars of cash on cargo planes, sent it to a state sponsor of terror, and Tammy Baldwin was one of the first U.S. senators to get on board and support that."
Iran is on the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism. As part of a 2015 deal aimed making it harder for Iran to make a nuclear bomb, Iran got access to tens of billions of dollars of its own assets that had been frozen — there weren’t billions of dollars sent on a plane.
The United States, in a transaction indirectly linked to the Iran deal, did send on a plane $400 million in cash to Iran. Iran was owed the money because it had paid the United States for military hardware in 1979 that was never delivered.
Finally, Baldwin was not among the first senators to support the Iran nuclear deal. Thirteen other senators had announced their support before she did.
For a statement that contains only an element of truth, we give Nicholson a Mostly False.
WTAQ radio, John Muir interview of Kevin Nicholson (24:00), May 30, 2018
Email, Tammy Baldwin campaign spokesman Bill Neidhardt, June 21, 2018
PolitiFact Wisconsin, "Iran nuclear deal was Hillary Clinton's, and it 'lined the pockets' of Iran with Americans' money?" July 29, 2016
PolitiFact National, "Trump withdraws U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. Here’s what you need to know," May 8, 2018
PolitiFact Georgia, "Fact-check: Handel claims Obama flew $2 billion to Iran, admitted it is being used to fund terrorism," June 6, 2017
PolitiFact National, "Donald Trump says Iran got $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash. That's Half True," April 27, 2018
PolitiFact National, "Donald Trump's Mostly False claim that $400 million payment to Iran was 'ransom,’" Aug. 14, 2016
New York Times, "Assessing Trump’s Criticisms of Iran and the Nuclear Deal," Oct. 13, 2017
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