The United States extended a sanctions waiver that critics slammed as tantamount to continuing to fund Iran’s disruptive activities as its proxies attack U. S. forces across the Middle East.
"It is absolutely outrageous the Biden Administration continues to find ways to send Iran money - especially from Iraq, where the same Iranian-backed militias who are targeting American forces increasingly run the show and are helping keep Iraq addicted to Iranian energy," Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., told Fox News Digital.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed an extension to the initial 120-day waiver that allows Iraq to pay for Iranian electricity through an escrow account, where it has so far deposited an estimated minimum $10 billion – all without fear of reprisal for potentially breaking any U. S. sanctions.
The waiver allows the payments so long as they go through Oman, where a portion is converted to euros or other widely-traded currencies for Iran to buy non-sanctioned products such as humanitarian aid. The State Department has insisted, as it did with the $6 billion held in Qatar, that the money can only be spent with U. S. approval. The department ended up quietly re-freezing the Qatar-held funds.
A senior State Department official told reporters that the waiver "isn’t a free pass for all this money to move," arguing it is a "layered" and "cumbersome" process with "significant reputational risk." The 120-day waiver, extended in July and again yesterday, continues a program of waivers going back to 2018 to provide Iraq access to the roughly 40% of energy it imports from Iran.
"Involving these entities that are well known to us, that we do a lot of outreach and coordination with, make us feel even more comfortable that kind of above the letter of the law," the official explained. "There is more oversight from a lot of different entities that don't want these funds to be misused for a variety of different reasons."
Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and coordinator for the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran, told Fox News Digital that the State Department issued the waiver as a balance for Iran agreeing to keep uranium enrichment below a 90% threshold – the point at which it reaches "weapons-grade" levels.
"An initial report from Reuters [said] the U. S. has authorized Iran to make a $2.76 billion payment to pay off various debts out of its cash sitting in Iraq, or bulk of that was debt to Turkmenistan for gas, and then also some various international organizations dues, other things that were not itemized at the time," Goldberg noted about the last Iraqi waiver in July.... (Read more)
Submitted 14 days ago