Kustoff Questions the Effectiveness of Current U.S. Sanctions Against Iran
Washington, D.C. – In a Financial Services Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Representative David Kustoff (TN-08) questioned witnesses on the effectiveness of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The joint hearing was held by the Monetary Policy and Trade and the Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittees.
“We know that last year there was a payment from the Obama Administration of around $400 million on the same day, or about the same time, that Iran released five American prisoners,” said Kustoff. “We also know that the Obama Administration stated a number of times that it would not negotiate, nor pay a ransom. This payment appears to be a contradiction of the remarks made by the Obama Administration.”
Kustoff then asked Mr. J. Matthew McInnis, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, if he has seen evidence of Iran using this payment from the United States or other cash payments following implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran, to further or worsen the conflicts in the region, such as the Syrian Civil War or the conflicts in Yemen.
Mr. McInnis responded, saying in part, “It is hard to discern, but I think it’s pretty clear from analysis of their budget that the moneys that came out of the JCPOA –a good portion of it -was very clearly sent to the military and to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for their activities around the region.”
The Congressman then asked Mr. Behnam Ben Taleblu, Senior Iran Analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, about a report in the Wall Street Journal regarding Iran’s support for Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, in the Syrian Civil War and Iran’s continued efforts to destabilize the region.
Mr. Taleblu emphasized that, after tracking Iran’s war in Syria for several years, he sees clear evidence that, with the support of Iran, Hezbollah is gaining strength in the region.
“In 2007, for instance, there were reports that Hezbollah was helping Iran train Shia militias on Iranian territory and then deploying them to Iraq” said Mr. Taleblu. “From 2013-2016, as you mentioned, Hezbollah was active in helping Assad take back territory. From 2015-2017, there was reporting that Hezbollah is allegedly helping Iran in Yemen. So, in fact, this force is growing its strength. It is not being diminished at all…There is a whole slew of such ammunitions that continue to be sent to groups like Hezbollah.”
For footage of the full subcommittee hearing, click here.