An Iranian official has claimed that the Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians during negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal.
The government officials and their family members were granted U.S. citizenship as a favor to President Hassan Rouhani, according to Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, a senior cleric and member of parliament, Fox News reported.
The move was made during negotiations for the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Zolnour told Iran’s Etemad newspaper which was cited by Fars News agency.
“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,” he revealed.
“If today these Iranians get deported from America, it will become clear who is complicit and sells the national interest like he is selling candies to America,” he added.
“It should be stated exactly which children of which authorities live in the United States and have received citizenship or residency,” the conservative official in Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s inner circle stated.
According to Fox News:
He estimated that between 30 and 60 were studying in the U.S. while the rest of them were working in the country “against our national interests.”
Though Zolnour did not mention anyone by name during the interview, several children of current and former Iranian officials live in the United States, including Ali Fereydoun, whose father Hossein Fereydoun is the brother of and special aide to Rouhani; and Fatemeh Ardeshir Larijani, whose father Ali Larijani is speaker of parliament.
There is no suggestion either of these people received citizenship in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. It’s also unclear if Zolnour meant citizenship or a green card.
Green cards were issued to 13,114 people in 2015 who were born in Iran and another 13,298 green cards were issued in 2016 according to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2015, 10,344 Iranians became naturalized U.S. citizens and another 9,507 became naturalized in 2016.
“We’re not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official,” a State Department spokesperson responded to questions about the claim by Zolnour.
“This sounds like totally made up BS,” Fox News analyst and former Obama State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
President Trump and other Republicans have repeatedly slammed the Obama administration for the deal with Iran which included the $1.7 billion payment that not-so-coincidentally happened at the same time American prisoners were released in 2016.
The Iranian official’s claims could stir up more resentment in the country toward the ruling clerics and elites in Iran at a time when the government is reeling under economic protests in multiple cities.
“Many ordinary Iranians are surprised and feel betrayed that children of the regime officials live and work in the U.S.,” Saeed Ghasseminejad, a research fellow at a Washington-based research institute, told Fox News. “The regime officials chant death to America but send their children to the U.S., away from the hell they have created in Iran over the past four decades.”
Some Iranians have even called for those family members to be deported from the U.S.
“Iranians don’t understand why the U.S. government allows the offspring of the regime officials to live in the U.S., while the U.S. has introduced a travel ban for ordinary Iranian citizens and many Americans are imprisoned in Iran,” Ghasseminejad said. “That is why many Iranians on social media have been urging the U.S. government to deport the children of the regime officials.”
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