One of President Obama's top liaisons to the Iranians during the negotiations over the nuclear deal confirmed that three separate agreements with the regime were signed on the same day.
"There were a number of documents signed on that final day," Brett McGurk, the special envoy for President Obama who reportedly signed the documents, told reporters at a State Department press briefing on Friday.
The documents memorialized agreements that the United States would lift sanctions on a major Iranian bank, drop charges against Iranian terror suspects in exchange for the release of American hostages, and pay a $1.7 billion settlement pertaining to an outstanding dispute about an unfulfilled weapons deal. The documents have been closely held by the Obama administration, which has only allowed a limited number of congressional lawmakers to read them.
"We had a number of strands of diplomacy come together at the exact same time on the same day and we had a very difficult 24 hours with the Iranians to finalize the prisoner trade," McGurk said. "So, a number of things were going on. We wanted to get a lot of business done the same day. There were a number of documents signed on that final day and so, that's really what happened that final day."
State Department officials have said previously that the Iranians seemed reluctant to fulfill their promise to release the American hostages, and so the Obama administration delayed the payment of the settlement money.
"We, of course, sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released, and that was our top priority," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters in August. "If your top priority is to get your Americans out and you're already having some issues about locating some of them, [then] you want to make sure that that release gets done before you complete that transaction."
U.S. officials have privately admitted that Iran regarded the various agreements as a package deal for the release of the hostages. "The timing of all this isn't coincidental. Everything was linked to some degree," a senior U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal.