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January 19, 2016 3:09 pm

Kerry Says ‘Massive Needs’ of Iran’s Economy Including Debt to China May Total $500 Billion

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured, suggested that the Obama administration could simply bypass the new visa rules for Iran. Photo: State Dept.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: State Dept.

Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back on Monday against critics of the Iran nuclear deal who say it frees up to $150 billion in frozen financial assets for Tehran to use however it pleases, saying the amount hovers more at about $55 billion.

“I keep hearing on television and elsewhere this $100 billion, $150 billion,” he said. “It is not. It’s not $100 billion, it’s not $150 billion. There is about $55 billion over time that will go to the Iranians,” he said.

The secretary of state, who struck the deal with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, along with negotiators from the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany in July, said Iran still had a major debt “to the Chinese, debt to other countries and so forth.”

“And so there’s much less” than $150 billion, he explained.

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The secretary of state also implied that much of the frozen funds would be directed toward infrastructure, both in Iran’s oil industry and for civic projects.

“They have needs somewhere in the vicinity well up into $500 billion,” he said, “to renew their oil extraction capacity and for other things on infrastructure. They have massive amounts of needs.”

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