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News About Obama's Nuclear Deal

First of all, former President Barack Obama didn’t give “150 billion in cash” to Iran.

The nuclear agreement included China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, so Obama didn’t carry out any part of it on his own. The deal did lift some sanctions, which lifted a freeze on Iran’s assets that were held largely in foreign, not U.S., banks. And, to be clear, the money that was unfrozen belonged to Iran. It had only been made inaccessible by sanctions aimed at crippling the country’s nuclear program.


Secondly, $150 billion is a high-end estimate of the total that was freed up after some sanctions were lifted. U.S. Treasury Department estimates put the number at about $50 billion in “usable liquid assets,” according to 2015 testimony from Adam Szubin, acting under secretary of treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.


The part that the meme gets right, though, is that the deal didn’t get congressional approval. The Obama administration had maintained that the agreement wasn’t a treaty, which would have required approval by the Senate. Republicans did try to block the deal, but they weren’t able to get enough support to pass the legislation in the Senate.

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