What would the Obama administration pay to stay on Iran's good side?
Answer: $8 billion. That's how much in frozen Iranian assets were released almost as soon as a deal was signed, in which Iran agreed to suspend progress on its nuclear program, neutralize some of its stockpile of enriched uranium and allow more intrusive international inspections.
An Iranian government spokesman on Monday confirmed the transfer to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
The administration's hasty gesture to help Iranian leaders ease their country's economic woes after the agreement was signed did not seem to be reciprocated in Tehran, where President Hassan Rouhani was as belligerent as ever in a meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a prominent Shia leader in that country. Rouhani called Israel a "forgery regime" and blamed regional troubles on foreign (read: U.S.) intervention.
Meanwhile, administration officials, aided by the usual groupthink among members of the Washington foreign policy establishment and pundit class, insist that critics who say the deal puts too much trust in Iran's good intentions are wrong. Here's Secretary of State John Kerry on the subject:
"It's not based on trust. It's based on verification. It's based on your ability to know what's happening. You don't have to trust the people you're dealing with. You have to have a mechanism in place whereby you know exactly what you're getting and you know exactly what they're doing. And we believe we are at the beginning of putting that in place with Iran."
But how's that going to work if the United States pays in advance, without any assurance of return on the other side except a signed piece of paper?
Update: The Washington Free Beacon quotes a senior administration official and Capitol Hill sources as saying the final details of Iran's compliance have yet to be worked out.