December 4, 2023 | FDD Flash Brief
Tehran still has access to $6 billion in previously frozen Iranian funds residing in Qatari banks, said Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 4. Iran “has the freedom to utilize the funds based on its needs,” the ministry said. Likewise, Mohammad Reza Farzin, the head of Iran’s central bank, said on December 3 that the funds “are not frozen at all.” The United States previously agreed to grant Tehran access to the funds, which originally were in South Korean banks, as part of a deal to secure the release of American hostages in Iran.
Tehran’s statements come after the Biden administration extended a sanctions waiver on November 14 to allow Iran to access upwards of $10 billion in electricity revenue once held in escrow in Iraq. Iran’s assertions raise new questions about a supposed secret agreement between the Biden administration and Iran that the White House never submitted for congressional review.
“The Biden administration claims it froze the $6 billion in Qatar, while Iran claims that’s not true. Meanwhile, no one is commenting on the $10 billion made available from Iraq. Whatever secret deal Iran believes it has with the White House, no agreement was ever submitted to Congress for review. After the October 7 massacre, 75 attacks on U.S. troops, and an attack on a U.S. destroyer, it’s time to lock down all the money made available to Tehran.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor
“It’s high time all funds tied to Tehran held abroad are frozen and rendered inaccessible. Letting even a penny continue to go to the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism after Iran proved the blows it could land against Israel on October 7 via its terrorist proxy would be an own goal of the greatest proportions.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow
“The Biden administration claims it seeks the defeat of Hamas, but it is still facilitating the flow of cash to the terrorist group’s chief patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran. President Biden can’t have it both ways. He must recognize Iran’s complicity in the October 7 massacre and impose meaningful consequences on the Islamist regime.” — Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor
Congress May Act to End the Sanctions Relief
Iran said its comments came as a response to the passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of the No Funds for Iranian Terrorism Act, which would cancel the waiver and licenses that render both the $10 billion in Iraq and the $6 billion in Qatar inaccessible to Tehran. The bipartisan bill received positive votes from 90 Democrats and all but one Republican.