Tags: Iran | frozen assets | Mark Kirk | Kelly Ayotte | Bob Menendez

Sen. Mark Kirk Slams Obama Plan to Release $11.9B to Iran

Image: Sen. Mark Kirk Slams Obama Plan to Release $11.9B to Iran
(Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 11:47 AM

The Obama administration has come under fire from Republicans for its plans to release billions of dollars in frozen assets to Iran, which they claim helps to fund terror groups.

The State Department freed up $490 million in cash on Wednesday to the Islamic Republic, and will have released a total of $11.9 billion by July when nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers are set to conclude, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

But GOP Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and John Cornyn of Texas are demanding that the White House hold up on releasing the money until the Middle East country can prove that they are not using the funds to back terror groups, according to the Beacon.

"Between November 2014 and July 2015, the interim deal's direct forms of sanctions relief will allow Iran access to roughly $4.9 billion in frozen money," Kirk told the Beacon "That's equal to what it'd cost Iran to fund Hezbollah for as much as 50 years."

The Pentagon has estimated that Iran spends up to $200 million a year funding the Hezbollah terror organization as well as possibly the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the brutal Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad.

The United States is planning to release the rest of the frozen Iranian assets in five payments totaling around $5 billion before the end of June, according to the Beacon.

Kirk and Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey have drafted a bill that would ramp up sanctions against Iran if a deal is not reached by July 6.

However, as the U.S. edges closer to the March deadline for a framework agreement with Iran on its disputed nuclear program, President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any effort by a GOP-controlled Congress to pass new sanctions legislation.

In his State of the Union address, Obama said that such a step "will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again."

But Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that unfreezing assets has helped Iran at the bargaining table in the countdown for the talks aimed at preventing Iran getting a nuclear bomb, the Beacon reported.

"The Obama administration provided Iran with a financial lifeline through both direct sanctions relief and the de-escalation of sanctions pressure that helped the regime stabilize its economy after a severe sanctions-induced economic crisis in 2012 and 2013," Dubowitz said.

"It is not a surprise that this has increased Iranian negotiating leverage and hardened the supreme leader's nuclear intransigence."

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The Obama administration has come under fire from Republicans for its plans to release billions of dollars in frozen assets to Iran, which they claim helps to fund terror groups.
frozen assets, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, Bob Menendez
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2015-47-21
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 11:47 AM
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