Grassley presses Blinken on 'strict oversight' of $6 billion in Iran funds from hostage deal
The U.S. and Qatar reached an agreement in mid-October to refreeze the funds in the wake of an Oct. 7 Hamas raid.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is demanding answers from Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his agency's oversight of the $6 billion in Iranian funds that the Biden administration agreed to unfreeze as part of a recent prisoner swap.
In September of this year, the Biden administration announced a prisoner swap with Iran that that would also see the U.S. permit the transfer of funds to Qatar from South Korea that government had planned to pay Tehran for oil prior to U.S. sanctions. The State Department previously told Grassley that "United States will have full visibility and will exercise strict oversight as to how and when these funds are used."
Grassley previously wrote to Blinken in October asking him to outline U.S. oversight mechanisms into Iran's use of those funds. The Iowa lawmaker in a follow-up letter acknowledged the Department's reply, but insisted that it failed to define "strict oversight." He had further asked that the Department outline what agency components were responsible for conducting the "strict oversight," and that it divulge the information that led to the U.S. and Qatar ultimately blocking Iran's access to the funds.
The U.S. and Qatar reached an agreement in mid-October to refreeze the funds in the wake of an Oct. 7 Hamas raid on Israel that saw its forces storm Israeli border towns, seize more than 200 hostages, and kill 1,200 civilians. Israel subsequently invaded the Gaza Strip though fighting is currently paused as part of a deal to secure the return of some of the hostages.
Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Rick Scott, suggested that Biden had indirectly funded the Hamas attack given that the terrorist group maintains close ties with Iran.
"Joe Biden funded this attack when he bowed to Iran and gave $6 BILLION to this evil regime that starts every day plotting to destroy Israel," he said at the time. "While Biden is silent, his appeasement of Iran and Hamas terrorists is heard in every siren blaring across Israel."
Grassley further noted that the State Department had identified the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as central to the oversight process but had failed to explain OFAC's role or outline any of the mechanisms by which the United States could punish Iran for non-compliance with the deal.
The Iowa lawmaker gave Blinken a Dec. 5 deadline to fully answer his questions.
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.