Obama denies $400M payment to Iran was ransom

From The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama vigorously denied on Thursday that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was ransom to secure the release of four Americans jailed in Tehran. He defended the transaction as evidence that the nuclear accord with Iran has allowed for progress on other matters.

“This wasn’t some nefarious deal,” Obama said during a news conference at the Pentagon.

The money was delivered to the Iranian government in January, at the same time the nuclear deal was settled and the Americans were released. The payment was part of a decades-old dispute over a failed military equipment deal dating to the 1970s, before the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Obama also answered political questions at the news conference, pushing back at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s suggestions that the November election might be rigged, calling the assertion “ridiculous.” He said his advice to Trump, a candidate he has declared “unfit” for the presidency, was to “go out there and try to win the election.”

Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will soon be receiving classified briefings, giving them access to sensitive information about national security and America’s military posture. Asked whether he was worried about Trump having access to such material, Obama said simply that those who want to be president need to start acting like it.

“That means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around,” he said.

The president’s appearance before reporters followed an hours-long meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon on the fight against the Islamic State group.

Obama said there have been gains in weakening IS in Iraq and Syria, but he conceded the extremist …

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