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Young, GOP colleagues question Biden administration on newest sanctions waiver for Iran

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) joined a dozen of his Republican colleagues in making a national security inquiry into another Iranian sanctions waiver issued last month by the Biden administration.

“The United States should be restricting Iran’s access to currency abroad. Instead, your administration is expanding it, all while continuing to share limited information on a strategy to restore deterrence in the Middle East with Congress or the American people,” wrote Sen. Young and his 12 GOP colleagues in an April 3 letter sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In their letter, the senators expressed concern regarding the Biden administration’s “ongoing strategy of appeasement in response to Iranian aggression” via issuance of a March 12 sanctions waiver that they say “makes restricted Iranian funds more accessible to the Ayatollah’s regime, at a time when Iranian-backed aggression in the region is at a peak,” and disregards congressional intent that any payments made to Iran remain “severely restricted.”

Sen. Young and his colleagues pointed to Iran’s ongoing funding and support of the Hamas terrorist group, which continues its violent campaign against Israel in the Red Sea and across the Middle East.

“This campaign not only threatens to disrupt critical supply chains and drive up the cost of goods, but it also relentlessly targets U.S. service members — to deadly effect,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is unfathomable that this is the context in which the administration determined that it was within the national security interest of the United States to waive sanctions on restricted Iranian funds, making them more accessible to the regime. 

“If we want to actually restore deterrence in the region, those funds should be placed further out of Iran’s reach, not closer,” they added.

Sen. Young and his colleagues also called into question the timing for the administration’s issuance of another sanctions waiver at a time when the Iran Threat Reduction Act requires that any funds due to the Iranian regime for petroleum sales must be kept in bank accounts in the country purchasing Iranian oil, in locally dominated currency from which the regime could draw for the purchase of commercial goods. 

This requirement, they wrote, was intended to limit the Iranian regime’s ability to access hard currency from these sales. 

“However, you have now issued three waivers related to Iraqi electricity payments that authorize funds to be transferred outside of Iraq and for those funds to be denominated in euro,” according to the letter. “The timing of these actions accrue even greater financial benefit to the regime and appear to be in direct conflict with the statutory requirement.”

The senators asked Yellen and Blinken to answer several questions that seek to clarify the details and bring transparency to the process.

Ripon Advance News Service

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