A senior Iran official is claiming that the Obama administration granted U.S. citizenship to about 2,500 Iranians while the Iran nuclear deal was being negotiated, as reported by Fox News.
Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour, a senior cleric and chairman of Iran’s parliamentary nuclear committee, made the allegations in an interview with Iran's Etemad newspaper.
Allegedly, according to Zolnour's claims, the Obama administration gave citizenship to between 30 and 60 family members of Iranian government officials as a favor, which ultimately caused the officials to fight over whose family would benefit from the arrangement.
“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. It should be stated exactly which children of which authorities live in the United States and have received citizenship or residency,” said Zolnour. “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.”
Zolnour did not mention the specific Iranians who were given citizenship, but Fox News points out that "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."
A State Department spokesperson said that “we’re not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official" when asked about the allegations.
Iranians were especially shocked by Zolnour's statements.
“Many ordinary Iranians are surprised and feel betrayed that children of the regime officials live and work in the U.S. 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," said Saeed Ghasseminejad, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies to Fox News. “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. That is why many Iranians on social media have been urging the U.S. government to deport the children of the regime officials.”
Author's note: If proven to be true, this gives Republicans more ammunition to slam the Obama administration for its questionable dealings with Iran. These claims could be part of a much bigger case of corruption, both on Obama's part and on the part of the Iranian officials who negotiated it.