MONTGOMERY, ALA., October 10, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) has joined Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and 18 colleagues in calling on President Joe Biden to immediately stop the process by which the United States approved making $6 billion available to Iran and freeze the funds entirely from future use.
In a letter sent yesterday to the President, the Senators urgently requested that the Administration reverse course in light of reports from The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets that state Iran was actively working with Hamas to plot and support the brutal attacks against Israel around the same time the Iranian regime was negotiating a hostage deal with the Biden Administration.
“As a mom, as an American, and as a Christian, I am absolutely horrified by what we’re seeing in Israel. The atrocities that Hamas has committed against innocent children, women, and men are barbaric,” said Senator Britt. “Babies beheaded, entire families murdered in their homes, women raped, and Holocaust survivors dragged from their wheelchairs to be taken hostage. The United States must respond with unequivocal strength, and halting President Biden’s $6 billion ransom payment is a commonsense step the Administration can take to ensure that Iran reaps bone-crushing consequences for continuing to be the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. I stand with the Israeli people as they rightfully defend themselves with overwhelming force, and I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the days, weeks, and months ahead to ensure Israel has everything it needs.”
Under the conditions of the original deal, in return for the release of five American hostages, the United States released five convicted Iranian prisoners and allowed $6 billion to be made available to the regime in Tehran. Despite the Biden Administration’s contention that the funding would only be used for narrow humanitarian purposes, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said publicly that his government would use the money “wherever we need it.”
In addition to Senators Britt and Blackburn, signatories of the letter include Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.Dak.) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.Dak.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kans.).
The text of the full letter can be found here and below:
Dear Mr. President:
We write today to affirm our unwavering support for Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, and call on the U.S. Department of State to freeze the accounts in Qatar containing $6 billion in Iranian funds that were released from South Korean accounts in September.
Since Hamas began its attack on Israel on Saturday, more than 4,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza, countless Israelis have been injured, and more than 130 individuals have been kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. Hundreds of civilians have been brutally murdered in Israel, and recent reports confirm that several Americans were killed in the attacks.
Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, and Wall Street Journal reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps worked with Hamas to plan the ongoing attacks on Israel. These horrific attacks come on the heels of the State Department issuing sanctions waivers for Iranian funds held in South Korean accounts to be converted from won to euros and then transferred to bank accounts in Qatar.
To stand by and allow Iran access to these funds as Hamas infiltrates Israel and murders, rapes, and mutilates countless Israelis is unconscionable. Your administration claims these funds are only available for humanitarian use, but money is fungible, and there is a significant risk they could be used to further efforts by Iran or Hamas against Israel. Moreover, allowing $6 billion to flow into Iran’s economy, even if the purpose is for humanitarian aid, allows the Iranian regime to reallocate even more funds to supporting terrorism. Oversight over the use of this $6 billion is not enough, and the oversight mechanism is crippled by your reported decision to pull the longstanding Treasury attaché from Qatar. The State Department should immediately rescind the waivers that allowed Iranian funds to be converted and moved to more accessible bank accounts, as well as work with U.S. ally Qatar to immediately freeze the accounts containing these funds.
We must stand with Israel and restrict access to these Iranian funds. Iran should be placed under the most stringent sanctions admissible. Anything short of this is unacceptable and only aids in the ability of Iran and Hamas to fund these heinous acts.