During a Congressional hearing Thursday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) asked the State Department’s Christopher Backemeyer about the $1.7 billion cash payment to Iran, which was part of the nuclear deal struck with the Islamic nation in 2015.
Duffy wanted to know if any of the money received by Iran could be used for nefarious purposes:
DUFFY: “Any of the $1.7 billion that has been provided in cash to Iran–is any of that going to be used for terrorism? And can you guarantee me that that money won’t be used to harm any Americans?”
BACKEMEYER: “…It’s our assessment [that] the vast majority has gone to the critical economic needs that Iran has had. Now I can’t speak to every dollar that’s gonna go in or out of Iran, as you know…”
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations called the hearing “Fueling Terror: The Dangers of Ransom Payments to Iran.” Ostensibly, the principle objective was to determine where and how Iran is spending its recent windfall.
According to a September 1st report by Saeed Ghasseminejad of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), when Tehran finalized its 2016-2017 budget in April, they invoked what’s known as article 22, “which required the executive branch to transfer to the military the funds it receives from settling legal disputes with foreign countries and companies.”
“The following month, a member of the parliament’s presiding board confirmed that the legislature had indeed allocated $1.7 billion from legal settlements to the defense budget.”
Ghasseminejad writes that Tehran’s budget makes clear where the $1.7 billion from the nuclear deal will be going. The danger, he notes, is that the United States doesn’t know how the military will spend the money:
“…potentially to prop up the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, or Houthi rebels in Yemen, or to buy heavy weaponry from Russia in contravention of the UN arms embargo.”
Because the payment was in cash, it will also be difficult, if not impossible, to trace Iran’s purchases, as well as its funding of terrorist organizations.
Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
According to a Congressional Research Service report ordered by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Iran provides between $6 billion to $15 billion annually to the Bashar al-Assad regime, “$1.5 million to $2 million a month” to Shiite militias in Iraq, specifically Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, “tens of millions” a year to Hamas, and between $100 million and $200 million to Hezbollah.
If Ghasseminejad’s claims are accurate, the United States will be proxy-funding multiple terrorist organizations via the cash transfer of $1.7 billion to Iran.
Given the State Department’s admitted inability to know for sure where the money is going, it seems probable that the terror-sponsoring nation will use at least some of its newly acquired money to prop up oppressive regimes and fund terrorist organizations in the Middle East.