Administration Agrees to Block Iran From $6B

Qatar, US reach 'quiet understanding' to keep money from helping Hamas
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2023 6:50 PM CDT
Administration Agrees to Block Iran From $6B
Deputy Secretary of Treasury Wally Adeyemo, with Attorney General Merrick Garland, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice on Oct. 3.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Facing congressional pressure, the Biden administration has moved to ensure Iran can't use any of its $6 billion freed up in the deal that resulted in the release of five Americans last month. The money, which had been frozen by the US, was sent to accounts in Qatar, whose government now has agreed with the US to not let Iran touch it, the New York Times reports. Republicans and some Democrats had argued that the windfall, generated by past oil sales, could have freed up other Iranian money to help Hamas attack Israel on Saturday. US officials said they're investigating but so far have seen no evidence that Iran was directly involved in the assault. Iran, however, historically has supported Hamas.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo described the agreement with Qatar to House Democrats on Thursday as a "quiet understanding," per CNN. The accounts already were being monitored, and the money could only be used for humanitarian needs, US officials said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that none of the money "actually been spent or accessed in any way by Iran." Democratic Sen. Bob Casey was among the lawmakers who had called for the accounts to stay frozen until it's clear whether Iran was involved in Hamas' attack, per the Hill. He also said Republicans should not mislead Americans about the money. "None of the sanctions funds have been transferred to Iran," he said. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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