Senate Moves to Stop $2.8 Billion Cash Infusion to Iran

New bill requires certification no cash transfers are spent on terror

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / AP
July 25, 2014

Senators are moving to block the White House from giving Iran another $2.8 billion in cash assets until the administration can assure lawmakers that Tehran will not use the money to fund terrorism, according to a copy of new legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The legislation, which will formally be filed early next week, comes in response to the Obama administration’s decision to grant Iran access to another $2.8 billion in currently frozen cash assets in exchange for agreeing to stay in nuclear negotiations through November.

As with the previous release of $4.2 billion to Tehran over the past several months, the money comes with no strings attached, meaning that Iran could potentially use the cash to finance its terror operations, which includes Hamas, Hezbollah, and other rogue activities.

Senators are now moving to prevent the next cash infusion unless the White House can certify that the money will not be used to support terrorist activities or groups, including, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, among others, according to the legislation.

The bill—authored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) with Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) and John Cornyn (R., Texas)—would effectively suspend President Barack Obama’s authority to use his executive power to waive sanctions on Iran and unfreeze the cash assets, which top more than $100 billion.

Kirk slammed the administration for repeatedly blocking Senate efforts to level new sanctions on Iran and granting Iran more time to build a nuclear weapon.

"Preventing consideration of the Menendez-Kirk bill has resulted in a failure to irreversibly block development of a nuclear weapon by Iran, in a 4-month extension of talks and in a release of $2.8 billion of revenue," Kirk, one of the Senate’s leading critics of Iran, told the Free Beacon in a statement.

"Before releasing $2.8 billion to Iran through sanctions relief, the administration should certify to the American people that the money will not be used to advance terror, nuclear weapons or violate human rights," Kirk said. "How much more time will we allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb?"

Sen. Kirk first attempted to introduce the legislation this week as an amendment to a jobs bill under consideration by the Senate. The measure will be reintroduced next week as a standalone piece of legislation.

In addition to stopping Iran—which the State Department has designated as the world’s "most active state sponsor of terrorism"—from using the cash to finance terrorism, the bill also seeks to ensure that Tehran will not spend the released funds on its ballistic missile program and denies the money if Iran commits "any violation of human rights," according to bill.

The White House confirmed shortly after the talks were extended at Obama’s order that Iran will receive the $2.8 billion

"As part of the JPOA [Joint Plan of Action] extension, Iran will be allowed access in tranches over the next four months to $2.8 billion from its restricted overseas assets," a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call after the extension deal was struck. "Those assets, which are largely unavailable to Iran, are more than $100 billion."

The bill comes on the heels of a separate piece of legislation aimed at ensuring that any final deal with Iran receives congressional approval. That bill, filed earlier this week, would subject any final deal to a vote and prevent the White House from extending talks any further past the November deadline.