Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that a report about the Obama administration sending Iran $400 million in cash was old news.
"This story is not a new story," Kerry told reporters in Argentina. "It doesn't represent anything the American people weren't told by the president and by the administration. What it does represent is a policy of common sense."
The administration sent millions of dollars worth of foreign currency to Iran at the same time as four American hostages were released in January, resulting in criticism that the payment was for ransom. The transfer was the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement between the U.S. and Iran for an old arms deal gone awry.
Administration officials withheld details of the deal from members of Congress and are still refusing to describe how the payment was made or when it was made.
Kerry reiterated that the formal implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, the cash transfer, and the hostage exchange were separate lines of effort—but that the timing of all three happened to coincide. He also underscored that the president announced the agreement in January.
"It was negotiated by a separate group, on a separate track, who happened to come to an agreement at a time where Iran needed money and wanted money because the banking systems were closed to Iran," he said.
Kerry argued that the agreement "saved the American taxpayer potentially billions of dollars," because if the settlement had gone to court, "the adjudication could have been for significantly more money."
"There was no benefit to the United States of America to drag this out," he said.