At least one legislator is urging President Joe Biden to freeze the $6 billion in funds recently unlocked to Iran as reports have emerged that Tehran was directly behind Hamas terrorist’s deadly attack on Israel over the weekend.
Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) helped Hamas leaders plan the attack and, in fact, approved the operation during a meeting just last week in Lebanon.
Although Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State, said on Sunday that “not a single dollar” of the $6 billion had been spent by Iran after the United States released it last month in a prisoner swap, former GOP Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy stepped out Monday to urge the administration to refreeze the funds.
“Biden’s policy on appeasement, including money for hostage deals, must come to an end,” said McCarthy. “His policy has only emboldened terrorists, and handling over $6 billion to Iran only helps the cause. In explaining that to members of Congress, they said they had provisions to refreeze the money if Iran has done something wrong. They should freeze the money back today.”
McCarthy, who said he would return as speaker if there is a possible stalemate by the Republican-led lower chamber in choosing a new one due to the Israel crisis, made the comments during a Monday address in the aftermath of Saturday’s attack.
McConnell: Like McCarthy, called on allies to reimpose Iran sanctions
Republican Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, also called upon Western allies to reimpose sanctions on Iran, writing, “There are already indications this war was orchestrated with considerable assistance from Tehran.”
“The civilized world must impose real costs on terrorists and those who support or condone them. There should be no haven for Iran’s agents of deaths,” wrote McConnell in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.
“The West should reimpose extensive multilateral sanctions on Tehran and deny Iranian planes overflight rights. Impound the shipping vessels Iran uses to circumvent sanctions. Close Iranian bans with access to the West, and cease the Iranian operations of European businesses. Treat Iranian officials like pariahs and sink Iranian naval boats that threaten international shipping.”
Last month, the Biden administration unfroze $6 billion of Iran’s money and agreed to exchange five Americans detained in the terrorist nation for five Iranians. Sunday, Blinken said Iran had the “right to use these monies for humanitarian purposes.”
While the Journal reported that the IRGC had been working with Hamas on strategies to break through Israel’s borders since August, Secretary Blinken insisted there is no “evidence that Iran directed or was behind this particular attack.”
Iran’s United Nations mission denied involvement and called the “Palestinian resistance fiercely autonomous,” however, two Hamas officials gave conflicting accounts about whether Iran was involved.
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Mirdawi called it a “Palestinian and Hamas decision.” At the same time, Ghazi Hamad, Hamas spokesman, told the BBC Saturday that Iran gave its full support to launch the attacks.
Former U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, Nathan Sales, said Monday that “Iran’s fingerprints are all over” the Israel attack.
“An attack of this scale, involving this kind of money and this degree of planning, it can only happen with state support; I’ve got to tell you: Iran’s fingerprints are all over this attack,” said Sales.
Whether Iran’s leadership factions knew and helped coordinate while others didn’t, McCarthy said it was splitting hairs.
“Three years ago, there was no war in Europe or in Israel, but today there is,” said McCarthy. “The United States must reinstate the maximum pressure campaign against Iran. Refreezing the $6 billion is only the start.”