Seeks Fight Over Obama Effort to Give Iran Access to US Markets
By Adam Kredo
March 28, 2016
Leading foreign policy voices in Congress say they are
preparing to fight against an Obama administration effort to provide Iran
unprecedented access to U.S. financial resources as part of an expanded package
meant to address new demands from the Islamic Republic’s for greater economic
concessions, according to several conversations between the Washington Free
Beacon and top lawmakers.
The Obama administration is currently exploring new options
to grant Iran more sanctions relief than promised under the comprehensive
nuclear agreement reached last year, just days after Iran’s Supreme Leader
gave a speech accusing the United States of interfering with Iranian banking.
Top foreign policy voices in Congress told the Free
Beacon in recent days that they are exploring a range of responses if the
Obama administration goes through with reported plans to grant Iran further
concessions beyond the purview of the nuclear deal, which dismantled key
nuclear-related U.S. sanctions against Iran. At least part of this action could
violate current U.S. laws, they said.
The planned concessions could include access to the U.S.
dollar and financial markets, which the Obama administration promised would
never take place under the deal, according to recent disclosures first reportedby
the Associated Press.
The Iranian government has recently heightened complaints
that it is not being granted enough relief from international economic sanctions
as a result of the recently implemented nuclear deal.
The Obama administration’s latest move to placate the
Iranians comes on the heels of a Free
Beacon report last week disclosing that U.S. officials engaged in
secret talks with Iran for years before agreeing in January to pay it nearly $2
billion in taxpayer funds.
The reports have generated harsh responses from lawmakers,
who say that the administration’s plans would endanger American economic
influence and put the entire international financial system at risk from
Iran’s illicit finance and money laundering activities.
“Any administration effort to get foreign financial
institutions or foreign-based clearing houses to enable Iran’s
terror-sponsoring regime to conduct transactions in U.S. dollars ignores
American laws and the Financial Action Task Force,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.)
told the Free Beacon.
“Such an effort would benefit Iran’s terror financiers
while fundamentally undermining the USA PATRIOT ACT 311 finding that Iran’s
entire financial sector is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering
concern,” Kirk said.
It would also undermine “the Financial Action Task
Force’s ongoing calls for international countermeasures to protect financial
sectors from Iran’s terrorist financing,” explained Kirk, who is backing a
new effort in Congress to increase sanctions on Iran as a result of its recent
ballistic missile tests, which violate United Nations resolutions.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, warned that the Obama
administration’s latest move could set the stage for the Iranian Revolutionary
Guards Corps, or IRGC, to gain a foothold in the U.S. economy.
“As if a windfall of over $100 billion in sanctions
relief was too small, and the massive cash influx into Iran from new business
deals too paltry, President Obama appears to be looking for ways to make further
concessions to Iran,” said Pompeo, who also has backed new legislation to
sanction Iran. “This would be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous.”
“American and international businesses can’t ignore the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ vast control of the Iranian economy and the
threat Iranian banks pose to the international financial system,” Pompeo
continued in a statement to the Free Beacon.
“In contrast with the absurd policies of the Obama
administration, I work with my colleagues in Congress to protect America’s
national security interests—just as we have in response to Iran’s recent
ballistic missile tests.”
Pompeo is independently investigating the Obama
administration’s recent $1.7 billion payment to Iran, which he and others
viewed as a “ransom payment” for the Islamic Republic’s recent release of
several captured Americans.
Other longtime Iran critics in Congress also expressed
concern over administration efforts to provide Iran with even more economic
“Further sanctions relief would mark the death knell for
U.S. sanctions and would represent a boon to the Iranian regime and its
Revolutionary Guard Corp,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, a member of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, told the Free Beacon. “The lengths to which the Obama
administration is willing to go to empower Iran is breathtaking.”
Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) explained that the
“administration has lost all credibility on Iran” as a result of its efforts
to accommodate Iranian demands.
“President Obama and Secretary Kerry have played the pied
piper so many times now,” Roskam told the Free Beacon. “Western
companies have to make the determination themselves whether or not they want to
make their employees and shareholders complicit in funding terrorism.”
When asked to comment on concerns in Congress, a State
Department official told the Free Beacon that it is aware of lawmaker
requests for more information on “additional sanctions relief.”
The official added that as long as Iran continues to adhere
to the nuclear agreement, the United States “will continue” to do the same.
Obama administration officials first
guaranteed last year that Iran would not be permitted to conduct
foreign transactions in dollars. This promise, however, is being reevaluated as
the administration seeks to keep Iran from walking away from the nuclear deal.