Biden admin reauthorizes waiver to unfreeze $10 billion in sanctioned Iranian energy revenue

 November 16, 2023

The State Department has confirmed that President Joe Biden's administration has reauthorized a temporary sanctions waiver that will permit the Islamist Iranian regime to access up to $10 billion in frozen energy production revenue, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

The waiver reportedly allows Iraq to make payments for sanctioned energy imported from Iran into restricted accounts established in other countries that are ostensibly restricted to only allow the Iranian regime to use the funds for limited humanitarian purposes.

That move shockingly comes little more than a month after the Iran-backed Hamas terror attacks in Israel, which killed more than 1,200 mostly civilian Israelis and sparked an ongoing conflict in Gaza, and amid dozens of attacks against U.S. troops deployed in parts of Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed proxy militia groups.

Sanctions waived on Iraqi payments for Iranian energy

An unnamed State Department official told the Free Beacon that the waiver "allows Iraq to use its own funds to render payment for Iranian electricity imports into restricted Iranian accounts in Iraq" and that "These restricted funds can only be used for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable transactions."

"Unfortunately, Iraq will not wean itself off of Iranian gas imports overnight," the official continued and noted that the waiver, first issued in July, was intended to "provide space and time" for the Iraqi government to fully implement an energy production reform plan that supposedly moves the country away from relying upon imported energy from Iran.

"It is in the U.S. interest that this money leave Iraq and be spent down from Iran's accounts held overseas," the anonymous official added. "Money used for non-sanctionable, allowable transactions -- like humanitarian trade -- is not available to Iran for other purposes, and it deprives Iran of leverage against the Iraqi government."

Condemned for helping finance Iran's support for terrorism

Of course, as always, critics have argued that money is fungible, and regardless of any supposed restrictions that limit the unfrozen $10 billion in energy payments to humanitarian purposes, the waiver frees up other revenue gained by the Iranian regime to be used to further foment terrorism and support proxy attacks against the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East and beyond.

"President Biden deserves great credit for supporting Israel’s campaign to destroy Hamas," Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said in a statement. "President Biden deserves strong condemnation for greenlighting the funding of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the main financier of and weapons supplier for the horrific October 7 attacks on Israel. It is beyond belief that he would make available $10 billion for a regime that will turn around and use this money to wage war against America and Israel."

Richard Goldberg, an FDD senior adviser, said, "Five weeks after the October 7 massacre and in the wake of 55 attacks on U.S. forces since October 17, the idea of making $10 billion available to the sponsor of all this evil makes little sense. Congress rightfully pushed to lock down the $6 billion in Qatar; it should move quickly to lock down this $10 billion too."

Goldberg, countering what the State Department official had said about the sanctions waiver for energy revenue, told the Free Beacon, "This waiver isn’t about Iraq importing electricity or gas. It’s about Iran getting access to the cash."

Republicans lambast Biden over "reckless and dangerous" move

The New York Post reported that news of the sanctions waiver did not go over well among Republican senators, with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) calling it "appeasement" that "emboldens" the Iranian regime, Bill Hagerty (R-TN) describing it as "madness," Todd Young (R-IN) lamenting it as "unconscionable," and, in light of Iran's sponsorship of terrorism, left Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wondering, "Why would Biden want to send another $10 Billion to Tehran?"

Former U.N. Ambassador and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley said of the reauthorized waiver, "Joe Biden just green lit $10B to Iran. Iran's proxies are targeting American troops abroad and just killed dozens of our citizens in Israel. Joe Biden needs to wake up -- we look like fools paying terrorists who attack us and chant 'death to America.'"

The move was also condemned by GOP candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who tweeted, "Joe Biden's administration gifted another sanctions waiver for Iran to access $10 billion -- the same regime underwriting the horrific Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th that Israel is courageously fighting, with American and Israeli hostages still being held. Add this on top of the $6 billion ransom payment the Biden administration gave Iran on 9/11 and the lax oil sanctions keeping the mullahs flush with cash from China."

"All the while, Iran continues to provide safe harbor to the leader of Al Qaeda, its proxies attack U.S. forces, and they hire hitmen to attempt to abduct or assassinate former U.S. officials and dissidents," he added. "Reckless and dangerous doesn't even begin to describe the wreckage Biden is leaving behind."

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