(USNewsMag.com) – Critics are speaking out after Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended a sanctions waiver that allows Iran to access $10 billion from Iraq for electricity purchases. Though the 120-day waiver signed by Blinken on Nov. 14 is the same as the one signed in July, critics are questioning its timing as it comes just a month after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas that killed 1,400 people, including 32 Americans. Attacks against U.S. forces by Iranian proxies are also on the rise.
The extension of the waiver continues a program of 21 waivers started under the Trump administration in 2018 to provide Iraq access to 40 percent of the energy imported from Iran. The waiver was issued by the State Department as a way to balance Iran’s agreement to keep its uranium enrichment below the “weapons-grade” threshold of 90 percent, according to Richard Goldberg.
According to officials, Iran will receive nearly $10 billion that Iraq used to purchase electricity. The money is in escrow accounts. The waiver allows the payments to go through Oman, and under the conditions of the waiver, the funds can only be used for humanitarian trade. The State Department said that the funds can only be spent with the approval of the U.S. The conditions placed on the $10 billion are the same as those governing the $6 billion that was held in Qatar, which the State Department ended up re-freezing following the Oct. 7 attack.
Florida Rep. Mike Waltz criticized the extension, calling it “outrageous” that Iran is being sent money, “especially from Iraq.” Montana Sen. Steve Daines called the move to extend the waiver “abhorrent and reprehensible.” He added that “money is fungible” and that it would be used to fund terrorist groups such as “Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.” Other critics say that the Biden administration should look at cutting off or freezing Iran’s access to all such accounts.
Since Oct. 17, there have been 56 attacks on U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
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