The president made shockwaves on social media Tuesday morning when he tweeted that the Obama administration secretly granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians.
Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians – including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
President Trump appears to be referring to a number claimed this week by Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, a senior Iranian cleric and member of the Iranian Parliament.
In comments to an Iranian state news outlet, the cleric claimed that there was a secret side deal in place allowing Iranian officials and their relatives to come to the United States.
“When Obama, during the negotiations about the JCPOA, decided to do a favor to these men, he granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians and some officials started a competition over whose children could be part of these 2,500 Iranians,” Zolnour said, according to a translation by Fox News.
Zolnour was exposing the secret side deal he alleged as a critique of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whom the mullah perceives as too soft on the West. Zolnour and Rouhani share the goal of advancing Iran’s Islamic revolution, but the senior cleric appears to prefer a more aggressive anti-U.S. strategy to achieve Iran’s foreign policy goals.
While a radical Iranian cleric’s words should always be taken with a grain of salt, it wouldn’t exactly be shocking if Zolnour’s claim turns out to be true. Zolnour led the regime parliament’s “Nuclear Committee of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission,” so he would certainly be in the know about Iran deal-related matters. Adding to Zolnour’s credibility is the fact that he is very close to the Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator who holds power in Iran. Zolnour has in the past been quoted as the supreme leader’s representative. In 2014, he threatened U.S. bases with missile attacks.
Moreover, the Iran deal was notorious for secret side deals. The Obama administration agreed to several extremely controversial secret agreements, sometimes completely outside the view of Congress. One involved what appeared to be the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom money in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages. Another downsized law enforcement efforts to crack down on Iran’s nefarious activities worldwide. A third involved Iranian nuclear enrichment levels and the regime’s ability to cheat the deal.
It remains unclear whether the Obama administration carved out special exemptions for the families of Iranian regime officials to live in the United States. However, as the Fox News article points out, there are several high-profile family members of Tehran officials currently residing here.