The United States, in collaboration with Qatar, has halted Iran’s access to $6 billion in funds. This sum had been transferred to Iran following a pact between Washington and Tehran, which resulted in the liberation of five Americans previously imprisoned in Iran.
Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, communicated this decision to House Democrats. He stated that these funds, originally intended for humanitarian efforts, were under rigorous surveillance. The decision arrives after critiques, particularly from Republican quarters, which opined that this substantial sum could indirectly assist Tehran in backing Hamas. This contention became pronounced after Hamas’ recent assault on Israel.
While U.S. officials haven’t pinpointed any direct support from Iran for this attack, the long history of Iran as a significant patron to Hamas can’t be ignored. There’s uncertainty regarding whether the Biden administration will perpetually block these funds or if this is just a temporary measure, particularly in light of probing Iran’s potential associations with Hamas. Regardless, this move is anticipated to cause a rift with Iran’s leaders, especially after an elaborate prisoner exchange.
Interestingly, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, during a press conference in Tel Aviv, neither confirmed nor denied this financial blockade. He did, however, clarify that Iran had yet to utilize the funds.
These funds originally accumulated in South Korean banks from oil transactions with Iran. They were later shifted to Qatari banks post the release of the American detainees.
This restriction appears to be a volte-face from the Biden administration, who had earlier downplayed the connection between these funds and the Hamas attack. When queried on this, Mr. Blinken emphasized that the funds were strictly for medical supplies and essentials, accusing skeptics of either being ill-informed or deliberately spreading misinformation.
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