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The State Department could not deny Tuesday that Iran will be able to spend the $100 billion it receives from the nuclear deal however it wants, despite insisting for weeks that Iran will only have access to half of that money.
When a reporter asked if there was a “binding parameter of the nuclear accord,” which said that half of the money was unavailable, State Department spokesman John Kirby dodged the question and said Iran would only “have access” to $50 billion.
“Our Treasury Department has done the analysis and has determined that … roughly half of the unfrozen assets are already spoken for and will be unavailable to them to use in manners in which they would choose,” Kirby said.
Kirby said that half of the $100 billion that Iran receives will go toward “international commitments” and “infrastructure requirements.”
“The amount of money, which is their money, that they would now have access to is just a little bit more than $50 billion, because the rest of it, nearly half of the entire freed-up assets … is already tied up in debts to the Chinese, or in other international commitments,” Kirby said.“Not to mention will be consumed by their own infrastructure requirements that lay before them.”
However, he later admitted that the $100 billion belonged to Iran and that some of it could go to terrorism.
“Well, it’s their money,” Kirby said. “The argument has been that this is a cash windfall that they’re going to just use to fund terrorism. We’ve said we cannot rule out the fact that some of the money may be used to fund their support for terrorism.”
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee questioned Kirby’s claim that Iran would not receive half of the money since it would be their decision to use $50 billion to pay back their debts, and that they would benefit from doing so.
“If they’re going to use half of this money to pay back existing debt, … they still have access to it,” Lee said. “I don’t understand why you can say that they’re only going to get $50 billion when they get the benefit of the full $100, even if … the benefit is [that] they’re …paying down debt.”
Kirby repeated that half of the money would not be available to Iran according to U.S. State Department and Treasury Department assessments.
“It’s their money that has now been unfrozen. It’s our assessment, and not just our assessment, but the Treasury Department’s assessment, that much of that is already spoken for,” Kirby said. “They’ll never get to see it.”
However, when asked why he is so certain in the U.S. Treasury Department’s assessment versus Iran’s assessment about how Iran will spend its own money, Kirby said he could not speak for anybody’s Treasury Department.
“I can’t speak for their Treasury Department. I don’t even speak for our Treasury Department. I’m telling you what the analysis is,” Kirby said. “The Iran deal wasn’t about apportioning the unfrozen assets.”