Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said Tuesday that there was "no doubt" Iran was continuing to fund terrorism in the Middle East.
Testifying at a Senate hearing on recent Iranian missile tests and their effect on Iran nuclear deal implementation, Shannon told Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) "we are seeing it" all over the region.
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"In regard to whether or not Iran continues to fund terrorism-related activities or destabilizing activities in the region, there's no doubt that that's true, and we are seeing it," Shannon said. "Whether it's in Syria, whether it's Lebanon and Hezbollah, whether it is in Yemen with what they're doing with the Houthi rebels, and we continue to do what we can through authorities that we have … to sanction when possible and to counteract the activities of Iran in the region."
Earlier on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran "absolutely" deserves access to U.S. dollars because it had fulfilled core obligations of the Iran nuclear agreement.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest remarked in January it was "expected" that Iran would continue funding terrorism with the sanctions relief money it got through the deal.
DAVID PERDUE: I'm also concerned about the liquid assets that are now available through the JCPOA for Iran and what they're going to be doing about that. The administration, when they were supporting JCPOA before its enactment, were adamant about ensuring that Iran would not continue to subsidize Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad. Can you give us an update on what the administration's doing to assure the people of the region that that indeed is being implemented?"
THOMAS SHANNON: Let me answer this in two tranches. First, in regard to the monies made available to Iran through the JCPOA, we assess that Iran has access to about $50 billion, scattered throughout any number of banks.
PERDUE: That's pretty much cash, that's liquid today, correct?
SHANNON: If they can get it.
PERDUE: And then there are other assets, as I understand it, that are liquidatable, is that correct? In addition to the 50?
SHANNON: That I'm not as sure of. What I have been told is that there was $100 billion being held in overseas accounts, but that about $50 billion of that was already called for, either through financial commitments that Iran has made through contracts or because of other aspects of the financial instruments that are being used, but that the money available to Iran is about $50 billion.
But again, it's scattered throughout an international financial system and held at different banks, and therefore has to be accessed piecemeal and over time. This is something that we've been watching closely. This is what Secretary Kerry was referring to when he said that there are times when we have to clarify our guidelines in regard to sanctions, so that Iran does have access to monies that we have committed to make available to it.
In regard to whether or not Iran continues to fund terrorism-related activities or destabilizing activities in the region, there's no doubt that that's true, and we are seeing it. Whether it's in Syria, whether it's Lebanon and Hezbollah, whether it is in Yemen with what they're doing with the Houthi rebels. And we continue to do what we can through authorities that we have, both sanction authorities given to us through [inaudible] and through other legislation and through executive actions to sanction when possible and to counteract the activities of Iran in the region.