Donald Trump
Donald TrumpReuters

President Donald Trump excoriated his predecessor Tuesday, castigating the transfer of funds during the Obama administration to the Iranian government, writing that the money never benefitted the Iranian people, and was instead funneled to terrorist organizations.

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, President Trump again praised anti-government Iranian protests who have taken to the streets since Thursday to protest government corruption and the country’s high unemployment rates.

“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

President Trump has repeatedly praised the anti-government protesters, saying that it was ‘time for change in Iran’.

“Big protests in Iran,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”

A day later, Trump wrote: “Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”

At least 21 people have been killed in Iran since the popular uprising began last Thursday, AP has reported.

In 2016, the Obama administration came under fire following revelations that in January of that year, the US had transferred some $400 million in cash to Iran at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport. The payment took place the same day – January 17th – as the release of five Americans who had been held by the Iranian regime.

Defenders of the payment claimed the transfer was not a ransom payment to secure the prisoners’ release, but instead was part of a long-running dispute between the US and Tehran regarding a cancelled weapons procurement deal from the 1970s. While the Shah had made a $400 million down payment on the deal prior to his overthrow in 1979, the US had refused to give the money to the fundamentalist Islamic republic which toppled the Shah’s government after the deal was scrapped.

The Obama administration later paid an additional $1.3 billion to Iran – money it claimed was interest from the $400 million held by the US from 1979 to 2016.

President Trump slammed the $1.7 billion transfer in February, telling Fox News the US had “nothing to show for it,” adding that the Iran nuclear deal was “the worst deal” ever negotiated.

“I think it was the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated. I think it was a deal that never should have been negotiated. I think it’s a shame that we’ve had a deal like that and that we had to sign a deal like that and there was no reason to do it and if you’re going to do it, have a good deal,” said Trump.

“We gave them $1.7 billion in cash, which is unheard of, and we put the money up and we have really nothing to show for it,” he continued.

Opponents of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, have claimed that with the lifting of sanctions on Iran, as much as $150 billion of frozen assets would be transferred to Tehran – a claim President Trump himself made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“When I look at the Iran deal and how bad a deal it is for us, it’s a one-sided transaction where we’re giving back $150 billion to a terrorist state, really, the number one terror state.”

While the Obama administration disputed the figure, the Treasury Department in 2016 conceded that Iran stood to gain some $55 billion in frozen assets after the JCPOA’s implementation.