According to the 120-day waiver signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Nov. 14, Iraq can maintain its energy imports without fear of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, even after a series of attacks against U.S. troops by Iranian proxy groups in Iraq.
The waiver also enables Iran to transfer electricity payments to accounts in Oman, facilitating conversion to other currencies for the purchase of non-sanctioned products. (Related: Repeated attacks by Iranian-backed militants on U.S. troops in the Middle East increase tension between Washington and Tehran.)
Moreover, U.S. officials claimed that Blinken signed the waiver to ensure Iraq could still access a critical energy source. They also stressed the implementation of a rigorous vetting process to make sure Iran will only use the freed-up funds for humanitarian purchases, like food, medicine, medical equipment and agricultural goods and equipment.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller also backed this claim when he defended the waiver extension, stating that the funds "can only benefit the Iranian people" and that the money is "held in third-party accounts outside Iran."
"They get their hands on zero additional dollars as a result of these waivers. Again, none of these funds are sent to Iran. They are held in third-party accounts outside Iran, and can be used only for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable purposes for the benefit of the Iranian people," Miller said in a press briefing.
As expected, the decision has faced criticism from foreign policy experts and Iran hawks in Washington.
Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, praised Biden's support for Israel but strongly condemned the sanctions waiver. Dubowitz argued that making $10 billion available to Iran, the main financier and weapons supplier for the October 7 attacks on Israel, is "beyond belief."
FDD Senior Advisor Richard Goldberg called for swift action from Congress to lock down the $10 billion, especially after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared in September that Tehran would use the money "wherever we need it."
However, Miller argued that Iran would persist in "destabilizing activities" irrespective of the waiver.
"We have seen Iran continue its destabilizing activities throughout that time, just as they did before the Trump administration issued the first of these waivers in 2018, which is why we have held them accountable through strikes against their proxy militias in the region and through the sanctions I just referred to, as well as a number of other measures. They choose to fund destabilizing activities first. They always have; as far as we can tell, they always will. So when it – looking at this money, we see the benefit of allowing these funds to move again to restricted accounts where they can only benefit the Iranian people," Miller said.
That being said, Republicans took their disapproval to X, formerly known as Twitter.
"Reckless and dangerous doesn't even begin to describe the wreckage Biden is leaving behind," said 2024 presidential candidate and Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He even criticized the Biden administration for providing another sanctions waiver to Iran after the $6 billion ransom payment made on Sept. 11.
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said the waiver makes the U.S. "look like fools" for providing funds to terrorists who target American interests.
"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," she tweeted.
Furthermore, Senators Todd Young and Bill Hagerty labeled the move "unconscionable" and "madness," respectively. Senator Marsha Blackburn questioned why the Biden administration would send another $10 billion to Tehran, given Iran's financial support for Hamas' terrorism. Senator Tom Cotton, a military veteran, condemned the waiver extension as "appeasement" that only emboldens the Iranian regime and its proxies.
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Watch this video from Red Voice Media discussing and criticizing why the Biden regime is giving another $10 billion to Iran after the $6 billion ransom payment.