(WATCH) Iran Sanctions


It may seem like there are three separate conflicts in the Mideast, all involving Islamic extremist terrorist groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis. But Iran is said to be behind all of them. Some analysts say it proves that a U.S.-Iran deal made under the Obama administration was a bad idea, and sanctions intended to keep them in line have failed. Lisa Fletcher reports.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer: We had some nice sanctions that actually worked with the Trump administration, with regards to the oil that they could sell, and it was hurting Iran from the standpoint that it made it very difficult for them to sell oil, and as a result, their economy was drying up.

Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer heads a House Committee that oversees U.S. sanctions, or punishment, against Iran.

Rep. Luetkemeyer: The Biden administration comes in, takes those sanctions off, and suddenly now, in the last three years, they’ve actually raised about $80 billion from oil sales that are now, as you say, funding the three different terrorist groups. And the latest one is the Houthis, who are really starting to get on the radar screen for everybody as they attack a lot of the oil tankers and different trade ships in the Middle East over there through the strait. And so, I don’t really understand why, unless you want to support Iranian activities, which I have a hard time believing our administration wants to do that, but from the actions, that’s what it looks like.

U.S. sanctions against Iran go back to the ’70s and the Carter administration, after Iran seized the U.S. embassy in Iran’s capital of Tehran, and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, known as the Iran Hostage Crisis.

During the Clinton administration, sanctions began to target Iran’s ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.

The Obama administration took a step away from enforcing sanctions and signed an accord along with five other countries in 2015, which dropped billions of dollars in economic sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to restrict its nuclear activities and allow international inspections.

Lisa: Under the Obama administration, they eased up on some sanctions if Iran agreed to pull back on its nuclear program. President Trump reversed that and increased sanctions. Now, under the Biden administration, what is the status of the nuclear agreement?

Rep. Luetkemeyer: That’s a good question. We’re all wondering where we’re at on that, because we can, from the appearances of it, is that we’re still where we were with the Trump administration from the standpoint that we’re not supporting it, and taking off some of the sanctions initially by the Biden administration. So I don’t know where we’re at exactly, but I would be very concerned. This is a really big deal. The Iranians are not a group, I think, that we need to take lightly. They are very concerning. Very concerning.

Lisa: So what sanctions are in place?

Rep. Luetkemeyer: I’m not sure we have a whole lot of them left anymore. They have the $10 billion that was there as a result of the electricity sales from Iraq. And so there’s some money sitting there that we’re not real sure how that’s going to be spent. There’s supposed to be some ties on that, but yet there’s not a whole lot of accountability on it, and we’re not really sure we can actually follow all those dollars. Then we have the $6 billion that we traded access back to the Iranians as a result of them freeing up some hostages. Just recently, they refroze that as a result of some of their activities with regards to financing terrorism. But the Treasury Department tells me that they were trying to put in place some accountability measures on those, so that they could actually follow those dollars. Technically, they were not supposed to be able to access that for anything other than humanitarian aid.

Lisa: What could that money do for Iran, $6 billion? 

Rep. Luetkemeyer: Well, I mean, $6 billion is a lot of money whenever you start talking about the cost of things in the Middle East. In a discussion the other day, you know, Hamas is getting in the neighborhood of $100 to $200 million a year from Iran.

Lisa: It’s a lot of money.

Rep. Luetkemeyer: You can fund a lot of Hamases around the world at a $100-200 million. Now, they’re probably going to need more since they’re in the middle of this fight right now, but they have been doing it to that level. So if that’s the case, $6 billion would fund a lot of terrorism around the world.

Late last year, Luetkemeyer sponsored a bipartisan bill to prevent Iran from using humanitarian aid for terrorism. The House has yet to put it to a vote.

Lisa: How accountable are they really for the money that is supposed to be used for humanitarian aid? It seems like a real stretch for the United States to be able to guarantee that that money is actually being used in the way the Iranian government says it’s being used.

Rep. Luetkemeyer: Well, I appreciate your cynicism. I think we all have that amount of cynicism. Now you’ll get a lot of arguments to say that they’re not watching them closely enough or not doing their due diligence.

Lisa: But does Treasury make an independent decision to pull back on sanctions or to not enforce sanctions, or is that at someone else’s instruction?

Rep. Luetkemeyer: I’m going to guess on this one, but — which is not a very good way to go about it — but the Treasury Department will take action based on the administration’s emphasis on how they feel about these things. If they just kind of wink and nod and say, “Well, you know, we really don’t want you to do this, but we’re not going to really have any consequences to it if you do. Off you go.” And that’s kind of the way we’re handling a lot of sanctions right now with China. We just don’t enforce them to the point we need to.

Sharyl (on-camera): He mentioned Iran funding terror cells here in the U.S.?

Lisa: Yes, and he followed that with telling me that there are about 25 to 30 sleeper cells lying in wait in the U.S. right now, probably brewing some similar 9/11 attack. And he said the only antidote to that is strong economic and strong border policies, which he says are the only thing that Iran understands.

Watch video here.

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1 thought on “(WATCH) Iran Sanctions”

  1. How much “terrorism” is the US funding? Should the current Senate bill be called the $95 billion for terrorism? Any population subject to mass murder by military means is terrorized.

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