Oct 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Iran can't access $6 billion from hostage deal, Biden official tells Dems

Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury, at an event in New York last month. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration is assuring congressional Democrats that Iran will not be able to access a $6 billion account in Qatar.

Driving the news: Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told House Democrats this morning that the U.S. and Qatar have an informal agreement not to move the money "anytime soon," according to Democratic aides.

Why it matters: Republicans have seized on President Biden's decision to release some $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue as part of a hostage swap deal last month to suggest Biden is helping to fund Hamas, the Iran-backed group that carried out the attacks in Israel over the weekend.

  • Vulnerable Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for Biden to prevent the $6 billion from being spent by Tehran.
  • The Biden administration has insisted that none of the funds, which were transferred from a South Korean account to a Qatari one, have been used.

What they're saying: Today's closed-door comments from Adeyemo went a step further than the administration's public arguments.

  • From the White House podium, officials have insisted that any suggestion that the $6 billion has been used by Hamas is untrue.
  • "I'm telling you, nothing's been accessed and we have oversight," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters today. "We have oversight over what can be accessed and for what purposes."
  • Speaking in Tel Aviv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a similar point. "None of the funds that have now gone to Qatar have actually been spent or accessed in any way by Iran."

The other side: Ali Karimi Magham, a spokesperson for Iran's UN mission in New York, posted on social media: "The U.S. government knows that it can NOT renege on the agreement."

  • "The money rightfully belongs to the people of Iran, earmarked ... to facilitate the acquisition of all essential requisites for the Iranians."
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