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November 18, 2023

‘Completely Unfathomable’: Senator ‘Outraged’ Over Biden Plan to Give Iran $10 Billion More

Antony Blinken signed a four-month waiver allowing Iran to access billions previously held in escrow.

By Ben Johnson

The Biden administration’s “completely unfathomable” decision to free up $10 billion for the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism even as Hamas viciously attacks Israel has congressmen perplexed, outraged, and demanding the president reverse course.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, signed a four-month waiver allowing Iran to access $10 billion previously held in escrow. The policy gives Iraq, which had been Iran’s staunchest foe under Saddam Hussein, the green light to purchase oil and natural gas from Iran. Two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Biden approved the measure to assure Iraq could not be held hostage if Iran threatened to cut off shipments of natural gas.

“It’s completely unfathomable,” said Senator Ted Budd (R-N.C.) on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” Tuesday. While freeing up $10 billion for Iran, Biden has urged Israel to grant Hamas a “pause” in fighting, carefully avoiding the word “ceasefire.”

“Hopefully people that saw the connection between the $6 billion and the terrorist attack from Hamas on October 7,” said Budd. “Then let’s see how bad it could be for the $10 billion.”

Funds derived from these sales will go to an account in Oman, where they will be transferred into more widely used global currencies and used for “humanitarian” concerns. The Biden officials told the AP the president believes the system will assure none of these funds go directly to funding terrorism — a case that does not persuade experts.

“Money is fungible,” 20 Members of Congress wrote President Biden last month. “Giving the regime access to funds in any form frees up money for Iran to spend on malign activities, including support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

The Biden administration’s State Department spokesman Matthew Miller has claimed Iran will “get their hands on zero additional dollars as a result of these waivers,” since “none of these funds go to Iran” directly.

The administration attempted to present the gift as a positive development rooted in U.S. foreign policy goals. “It is in the U.S. interest that this money leave Iraq and be spent down from Iran’s accounts held overseas,” a Biden administration State Department official told Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, since it “deprives Iran of leverage against the Iraqi government.”

The deal mirrors a previous deal the administration negotiated to benefit the Islamist regime. Biden officials announced the release of $6 billion from South Korea to Iran on September 11, the 23rd anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, inflicted by believers in fundamentalist Islam.

Although those funds were also earmarked for “humanitarian” purposes, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared on September 12, “This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money.”

In all, Iran has received $71.02 billion more funding under the Biden-Harris administration than under President Donald Trump, according to calculations from The Heritage Foundation.

The Obama-Biden administration also released $1.7 billion to Iran in 2016.

“No one in Israel can think that Biden is their friend,” said Robert Greenway, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense.

After the release of funds, attacks have increased against Israel and the United States. “We have seen Iran continue its destabilizing activities” throughout the period of massive funds transfers to Tehran, said Miller at a press briefing last Thursday. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gave the “final go-ahead” for the Hamas attack, reported The Wall Street Journal. Biden says none of the $6 billion funds had been spent by October 7. But critics say the Islamist regime planned the terrorist attack knowing that the funds were en route.

Dozens of U.S. soldiers have been injured in attacks by Iran’s proxies since October 7.

“If you want to support Israel in their war against Hamas, which we’re all in for, why would you dare give Iran a dime, let alone $6 billion, $10 billion?” asked House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.). Iran is “using that money, not only to fund terrorism against Israel, but against American troops.”

That left critics of Iran such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins doubly concerned the Ayatollah “may use the $6 billion for Little Satan and use the $10 billion for the Great Satan,” the United States. “We know that they would love to take us out, as well.”

Although U.S. sanctions against Iranian oil sales remain on the books, the Biden administration has not enforced them, flooding Tehran’s coffers with oil revenues and empowering anti-American alliances. China has purchased more than one million barrels of Iranian oil a day this year, 60% above its previous peak before sanctions were imposed in 2017. Instead of facilitating payment for the delivery of Iranian oil shipments to Iraq, “We need to cut off oil exports,” said Scalise, as well as maximizing U.S. oil and natural gas production.

A letter to President Biden signed by 98 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) called on Biden to freeze “the $6 billion provided in exchange for hostages, as well as the $10 billion in released funds based in Iraq, and withhold all waivers, general licenses and specific licenses for the use of such funds,” enforce sanctions prohibiting China from purchasing Iranian oil, and prevent Iran from accessing any further Special Drawing Rights (SDR) — vouchers oil-producing nations may exchange for currency — from the International Monetary Fund.

“The Iranian regime will use all available financial tools to further fuel this war against Israel, fund other terrorist proxies in the region such as Hezbollah who export Iran’s genocidal terrorism, and accelerate Iran’s nuclear build up,” said the letter.

At times of international turmoil and terrorist conflict, “you’ve got to have a strong leader on the world stage,” said Senator Budd. “We had that under President Trump. We can have it again.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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