'Rewarding Terrorism': US Giving Iran Another $10 Billion on Heels of Hamas Massacre
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Just 40 days after the brutal massacre of more than 1,400 Israelis, including 33 Americans on Oct. 7, the Biden administration has extended a sanctions waiver that will allow Iran to access $10 billion in previously frozen funds. The money is tied to neighboring Iraq's purchase of electricity from the Islamic regime.
The White House waiver gives Iran limited access to the electricity proceeds to buy humanitarian goods, but critics say the money will free up Iran to unleash more global chaos.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed the 120-day waiver extension and it was transmitted to Congress on Tuesday, U.S. officials said.
It will keep in place a provision under which portions of the electricity proceeds can be transferred to accounts in Oman and then converted to euros or other widely traded currencies for Iran to buy non-sanctioned products.
The same unnamed officials told the Associated Press the Biden administration believes Iran will not be able to use any of the money for nefarious purposes. They said a rigorous vetting process is in place to ensure that the cash can only be used for food, medicine, medical equipment, and agricultural goods.
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The officials said Blinken signed the waiver because the administration doesn't want Iraq to get cut off from a critical source of energy.
The waiver is similar to one signed by Blinken earlier this year, which freed up $6 billion that South Korea had paid to Iran for oil imports, in exchange for the release of Americans held prisoner by Tehran. Under that waiver, the money was transferred to banks in Qatar and is also restricted for the purchase of humanitarian supplies. But many called it a massive ransom payment to the Islamic regime.
Critics of the Biden administration's Iran policy point out that the waivers can allow Iran to free up domestic revenue it would have otherwise spent on humanitarian goods to fund its terrorist proxies like Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out administration officials Thursday in a post to the social media platform X.
"Giving Iran another $10 billion after the 10/7 massacre is beyond reckless. It's rewarding terrorism. The Biden Administration should immediately rescind this decision," Pompeo wrote.
Giving Iran another $10 billion after the 10/7 massacre is beyond reckless.— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) November 16, 2023
It's rewarding terrorism.
The Biden Administration should immediately rescind this decision.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller defended the waiver during a press briefing on Tuesday. He claimed that the money "can only benefit the Iranian people."
"They get their hands on zero additional dollars as a result of these waivers. Again, none of these funds are sent to Iran. They are held in third-party accounts outside Iran, and can be used only for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable purposes for the benefit of the Iranian people," he said.
The news of the Biden administration's waiver move comes after the Defense Department announced this week that Iran-backed proxy groups in Syria and Iraq have attacked U.S. forces with drones and rockets a total of 56 times since Oct. 17. The Pentagon said 59 U.S. personnel were injured in these attacks.
U.S. forces responded to the attacks on troops with three separate missions to strike targets in eastern Syria.
The news of the administration's effort to give Iran access to roughly $10 billion was also called out by the editorial boards of The National Review and The Wall Street Journal.
In an op-ed published Thursday, the editors of The Review wrote, "The administration's stated justification for it is incredibly cynical. They echo the spin used to defend the deal for $6 billion in sanctions relief it advanced earlier this year, in the weeks leading up to October 7 — that none of the money in question can be used for purposes other than paying for humanitarian goods."
"The obvious problem with that explanation also applies here: Money is fungible, and Tehran will no doubt adjust for the new humanitarian funds by diverting more spending for malign purposes," the editors continued.
"The $10 billion is an outrageous move that will materially assist Iranian terrorism," the editors wrote.
Likewise, in an op-ed also published on Thursday, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "In years past, U.S. policy has allowed Iraq to import Iranian electricity only if the payments were kept in escrow in the Trade Bank of Iraq and denominated in Iraqi dinars. The Biden Administration is now allowing far larger payments and has introduced a mechanism for Iran to move the funds through France, Germany, and Oman."
"This is likely so the money can be changed to euros, which are more readily convertible, says Richard Goldberg of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Even if the money goes for 'humanitarian purposes'—as the U.S. contends—this frees up funds for terrorism. Iran sends some $700 million to Hezbollah and at least $100 million to Palestinian terrorists annually," the board's op-ed continued.
"The Biden Administration had tried to keep its sanctions waiver classified, but Rep. Bill Huizenga (R., Mich.) was able to enter much of it into the Congressional Record. Mr. Biden has also quietly let the international embargo on Iran's missile program lapse and relaxed oil-sanctions enforcement, yielding a surge in Iranian oil exports that has brought the regime tens of billions of dollars," the board noted.
"Secrecy has been the Biden pattern on Iran, and for good reason: Its policy is unpopular. A Nov. 10-13 poll finds that 70% of Americans, including 58% of Democrats, think the President has been 'too accommodating' to Iran. Obama-era habits have proved hard to break," the op-ed concluded.
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