Senator: Biden Administration Lacks Credibility on Iran
The Biden administration announced Thursday that it would block Iran from accessing any of the $6 billion in Iranian assets it transferred to Qatar for humanitarian use, in light of the horrific terror strikes against Israel by Iranian proxy Hamas. “We don’t know a lot,” U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) said Thursday on “Washington Watch.” “It’s just a string of failures the Biden administration has had on a number of different fronts … In my opinion, they really don’t have any credibility.”
“The Biden administration was trying to return the $6 billion to Iran,” Ricketts described. “They would have had to make purchases, [which were] supposed to be only [for] humanitarian goods, and then they would submit basically a receipt to us, and we would release the funds.” He explained that the Biden administration had helped transfer the funds from South Korea to Qatar, a Gulf State neighbor of Iran, but that Iran had not yet accessed any of the funds.
“It made no sense to do this deal in the first place,” Ricketts pointed out, because “money can be used in a variety of different ways. So, even if they do spend money, say, on food, and get this money back from Qatar, they can spend it on anything they want. They can spend it on guns.” Ricketts said the Biden administration negotiated the deal with Iran “in secret” and did not inform the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which he sits, which reviews all treaty-like agreements.
“They must think the American people are pretty dumb to say, ‘Well, they can only use it for food and humanitarian purposes,’” responded Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, host of “Washington Watch.” “Let’s say you’ve got a household budget of $200, and you were going to buy $50 worth of meat, but instead somebody else gives you $50, and you go ahead and use that $50 to buy ammo.”
“They’re just going to use it to again sponsor terrorism. And we can’t allow that to happen,” Ricketts insisted. In addition to being the largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran is also supplying armaments such as drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine, where it enters combat against Ukrainian fighters armed by Western nations. “We got to make sure that there’s a permanent freeze on this,” said Ricketts. “We have some legislation we’re working on in the Senate to be able to make that happen.”
To add insult to injury, Ricketts noted that Iran negotiated with the Biden administration to receive $6 billion during the same timeframe that the Iran-funded terror group Hamas was planning its strike against Israel. It “just shows the contempt that they have for the Biden administration,” asserted Ricketts.
Three days after Hamas’s attack, Ricketts and 20 other senators sent a letter demanding that President Biden refreeze the $6 billion on Tuesday. Two days after the senators sent their letter, the Biden administration announced it would not disburse the funds to Iran.
Ricketts faulted the Biden State Department for promoting pro-Iranian policies across the board. Regarding the Obama-era Iran deal, he said, “they’re in violation of this right now. And the State Department, to my knowledge, hasn’t really done anything about that.” Ricketts joined 14 other senators on a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking how the U.S. was holding Iran accountable for its violations of the agreement.
But that may not be the only thing the State Department has to answer for, vis a vis Iran. On Wednesday, members of Congress wrote to Blinken asking for information regarding Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s former special envoy for Iran — “the Administration’s top negotiator with Iran,” they said. Malley was suspended this summer for allegedly mishandling classified information — the FBI has opened a criminal investigation against him — and has been accused of links to an “Iranian spy ring.”
“The Iranians created a fake think tank [the Iran Experts Initiative], and then they had recruited Americans to basically staff it and then push the Iranian point of view on our State Department,” Ricketts explained. “Some of these people actually were very close advisers to the State Department.”
“It just demonstrates the incompetence of the Biden administration that they could allow this to happen in the first place. You would think that this would raise red flags,” Ricketts added. “They view us as being weak. Any time the United States shows weakness, we just encourage these bad actors — you know, these dictators, these terrorist groups — to start attacking us. The world is safer when we act strongly.”
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.