Biden admin under pressure to stop billions of dollars in sanctions relief to Iran

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The Biden administration is facing growing pressure over its policy of pumping billions into the cash-starved economy of Iran’s regime after its proxies were accused of killing three U.S. soldiers in Jordan in late January.

It’s been reported that Biden might again extend this month’s sanctions waiver to the Islamic Republic of Iran that would result in as much as $10 billion funneled into Iran’s coffers.

Richard Goldberg, a former member of then President Trump’s National Security Council, told Fox News Digital, ‘In the four months since President Biden last renewed this waiver and gave Iran access to billions of dollars, Biden has subsidized the murder of three American soldiers, non-stop attacks on the U.S. Navy and American-owned ships in the Red Sea, and a threatening expansion of Iran’s nuclear program. If the president extends Iran’s access to these funds, Senate Republicans should mount a campaign to force a vote on legislation that would lock down the cash.’

Iranian regime-backed proxies murdered three American soldiers at Tower 22 in Jordan. Tehran’s wholly-owned Houthi terrorist movement based in Yemen has launched fierce attacks on U.S vessels, as well as disrupted maritime trade in the Red Sea.

Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, added, ‘The responsible path forward would be to revert the waiver to older language that denies the mullahs access to the money while still allowing Iraq to physically import electricity from Iran.’

The U.S. State Department under both Republican and Democratic administrations has classified Iran’s clerical regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.

A U.S. State Department Spokesperson told Fox News Digital they disagreed that unfreezing the sanctioned funds held by Iraq will add to Iran’s terrorist superstructure. 

The spokesperson claimed, ‘That characterization of Iraq’s electricity waiver is wholly inaccurate. Under these waivers, no money has been permitted to enter Iran. Any notion to the contrary is false and misleading. These funds, which are held abroad in third countries, can only be used for transactions for the purchase of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, and other non-sanctionable transactions. The money goes straight to the trusted vendor or financial institution in another country. The money never touches Iran.’

Last year Iran’s U.S.-sanctioned President Ebrahim Raisi boasted that the money will be used ‘wherever we need it.’  The Trump administration sanctioned Raisi for his role in the massacre of thousands of Iranian protesters and dissidents.

The State Department spokesperson said about Raisi’s defiance that ‘Iran’s political leadership can say what they want, but we are confident in the restrictions in place to ensure these funds are not used for any sanctionable purpose, or we would not have made the deal that led to the release of the U.S. citizens unjustly held by Iran in September.’

The spokesperson continued, ‘While Iran has said publicly that it can use these funds any time it wants, this is false. In coordination with the Department of the Treasury, we have established rigorous oversight mechanisms to ensure these restricted funds can only be used for humanitarian trade, meaning food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products from third-party vendors, as well as certain other non-sanctionable purposes with separate authorization by the U.S. government. U.S. sanctions are not intended to punish ordinary people in Iran.’

The State Department spokesperson did not know at this stage if Biden will waive the sanctions imposed on Iran’s regime. 

‘We have nothing to share today about the possible renewal of the waiver, but the waiver has been regularly renewed since 2018, continuing a practice from the prior administration. We do not support, license, or provide comfort for transactions that could be used for malign purposes,’ they said.

According to the spokesperson, ‘Iraq is making progress in its path to energy self-sufficiency by increasing regional electricity interconnections, capturing and utilizing natural gas associated with oil production, and developing new domestic gas resources. Over the past two to three years, Iraq’s reliance on Iranian electricity and natural gas imports has significantly decreased.’ 

When asked if a planned sanctions waiver would be as much as $10 billion or another amount, the spokesperson explained, ‘This is a misunderstanding of the waiver. The waiver authorizes Iraq to pay Iran for electricity imports into Iran’s restricted accounts held in Iraq. It does not permit some amount of money to be transmitted to Iran.’

Republicans have strongly objected over the years to Biden repeatedly waiving sanctions imposed on the theocratic Iranian regime.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported on Tuesday that four House Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the Biden administration, noting that, ‘Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have launched over 160 attacks on U.S. troops since Hamas—another Iran-backed terrorist organization—murdered over 1,200 innocent people in Israel, kidnapped over 240 people, and committed depraved sexual violence on October 7, 2023.’

The lawmakers also highlighted, ‘An Iran-backed proxy militia group— conducted a lethal drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan. The attack resulted in the deaths of three American service members and injured over forty others.’

According to the letter, ‘These attacks raise serious questions about the Biden Administration’s Iran sanctions policy. Only six months ago, the Administration authorized the transfer of over $6 billion worth of Iranian funds from South Korea to a Qatari bank, as a part of a hostage deal that many viewed as tantamount to ransom. Later in October, Hamas conducted a devastating attack on Israel. In response, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to block the Iranian regime’s access to those funds.’

The departure point of the lawmaker’s letter is, Biden will green light the waiver and fail to ensure that the money does not advance Iranian regime terrorism. ‘We presume that the Biden Administration will renew the waiver again to continue to allow for the transfer of funds from Iraq to Oman. By waiving the application of sanctions, the Administration is maintaining a financial lifeline for the Iranian regime, even as it continues to support terrorist organizations around the world.’

The letter continued, ‘Iran has a history of lying about humanitarian transactions. There is no reason to think that they will not try to skirt these restrictions again. Additionally, money is fungible, and the waiver and subsequent transfer will free up billions in funds that Iran can now spend on its terrorist proxies, nuclear activities, and military.’

The lawmakers who authored the letter are: Bill Huizenga,Mich., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-MO., and Joe Wilson, R-SC.

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