Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton dismissed reports this week that the U.S. State Department gave Iran $400 million at the same time that it released American hostages as "old news."

"The White House has addressed this," she said in an interview Wednesday with a Colorado-based NBC News affiliate. "This is kind of old news."

"So far as I know, it had nothing to do with any kind of hostage swap or any other tit-for-tat. It was something that was intended to — as I am told — pay back Iran for contracts that were cancelled when the shah fell," she added.

The State Department announced in January that it agreed to settle with Iran over a long outstanding claim at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in the Hague.

"This specific claim was in the amount of a $400 million Trust Fund used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States prior to the break in diplomatic ties," the State Department explained in a press released. "In 1981, with the reaching of the Algiers Accords and the creation of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, Iran filed a claim for these funds, tying them up in litigation at the Tribunal."

"Iran will receive the balance of $400 million in the Trust Fund, as well as a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest. Iran's recovery was fixed at a reasonable rate of interest and therefore Iran is unable to pursue a bigger Tribunal award against us, preventing U.S. taxpayers from being obligated to a larger amount of money," the statement added.

The interesting thing about the payment is that it coincided perfectly with the January release of four American hostages, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland," the report claimed.

Though the Obama administration maintains there was no quid pro quo, the Wall Street Journal reported, "U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible."

Iranian officials have also reportedly referred to the cash payment as a "ransom," according to the country's new services.

On Wednesday, KUSA-TV's Brandon Rittiman pushed Clinton to clarify her position on the amount of cash the U.S. paid Iran.

"Do you approve of it?" he asked. "That's a lot of money to fork over to a country that you yourself have said isn't very trustworthy."

"Look, I think we know that the agreement has put a lid on Iran's nuclear weapons program. I consider that to be a very positive step," Clinton said. "The most important thing is that we have, in my view, prevented Iran from racing to get nuclear weapons, which is very much in America's interest."

And as for American critics who continue to disparage the deal, Clinton said she simply disagrees with their assessments of the agreement.

The Iran nuclear deal "will make the world safer, but it has to be enforced," she said. "I will hold the Iranians to account for even the smallest violation."