Right-wing media use Soleimani assassination to lie about 2015 Iran nuclear deal

On January 2, President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike assassinating Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani, who commanded Iran’s Quds Forces, a branch of the nation’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Right-wing media have been quick to defend the Trump administration for this escalation of hostilities between Iran and the United States, including by spreading old lies about the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

One particular lie that has recently resurfaced on Fox News and in other conservative media is that the Obama administration bribed Iran with billions of dollars.

In reality, some of the money Iran received as part of the 2015 nuclear deal was simply its own newly unfrozen assets from around the world; the rest was $1.7 billion the Obama administration sent to Iran to repay a decades-old IOU, administration officials said. 

Prior to the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government paid $400 million for American military contracts that were never delivered; the Obama administration agreed to reimburse that money, along with $1.3 billion in interest, as part of the nuclear deal. As The New York Times reported in 2017, “The United States did not directly give Iran money as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.” Instead, the U.S. simply delivered money it had owed Iran for decades, along with the interest on this delayed payment. It is true that the U.S. delivered this payment in cash and some of it was flown to Iran on an airplane. The Obama administration considered cash to be the most efficient and reliable way to pay the Iranians their money. 

Nevertheless, right-wing media have been peddling this years-old lie in recent days:

Radio host Sebastian Gorka: “President Obama sent billions of dollars of cash to our deadly enemy.”

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Fox host Sean Hannity: “Bribing dictators, like the mullahs in Iran, didn’t work, did it? Pallets of cash and other currency as they shout ‘Death to America.’”

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Citation From the January 3, 2020, edition of Fox News' Hannity

Fox host Ainsley Earhardt: “Many are saying that President Obama appeased -- he gave $150 billion to Iran."

Fox host Jeanine Pirro: “The days of appeasement are over. Gone are the days when the U.S. fetes Iran, brings her to the table to give her $150 billion, and an additional $400 million on pallets flown in unmarked planes.”

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Citation From the January 4, 2020, edition of Fox News' Justice with Judge Jeanine