In a recent development, President Joe Biden is reportedly considering approving a sanctions waiver that would grant the Islamic Republic of Iran access to $10 billion in frozen funds located in Iraq. This move comes amidst a backdrop of heightened tensions, following an unprecedented attack by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic terrorist group backed by Iran. The recent assault resulted in the tragic death of 1,200 Israelis, injuries to over 5,300 individuals, and the kidnapping of more than 240 people.
According to reports from The Washington Free Beacon, the proposed waiver would enable Iraq to transfer frozen electricity payments into Iranian bank accounts located in other countries within the region. Notably, prior to the October 7 terrorist attacks, President Biden had initially agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets for a potential prisoner swap. However, under pressure from Congress and the public, the funds were subsequently re-frozen in collaboration with Qatar.
Richard Goldberg, a former Trump administration official and current senior adviser at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, raised concerns about the transparency of the process. Goldberg highlighted that the State Department sent the waiver to Congress just before 5 p.m. ET, possibly to avoid immediate review by key committees. He suggested that the administration might be attempting to classify the waiver to prevent public oversight, stating that the law requires an unclassified waiver but allows for a classified annex.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in a September NBC News interview, asserted the country’s sovereign right to decide the allocation of the unfrozen funds. Raisi contradicted the administration’s claims that the money would be exclusively used for humanitarian purposes, stating that the Islamic Republic of Iran would decide how to spend the funds based on the needs of the Iranian people.
The unfolding situation raises questions about the potential implications of releasing such substantial funds to Iran, particularly in the aftermath of the Hamas-led attacks and the broader geopolitical context in the region. As the Biden administration navigates the complexities of international relations, the decision to grant this sanctions waiver will undoubtedly be closely scrutinized by various stakeholders, both domestically and abroad.
MORE: Biden administration may be attempting to classify the waiver. Sent to House and Senate Security Offices to prevent public oversight tonight. The law requires an unclassified waiver but permits a classified annex. White House trying to hide this $10 billion to Iran. https://t.co/mivKs4OGmd
— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) November 14, 2023
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says they’ll use the $6 billion from the Biden Admin “wherever we need it … as determined by the Iranian government” pic.twitter.com/KMLUfk2xhl
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 12, 2023