The U.S. has a “quiet agreement” with Qatar to block Iran from accessing the $6 billion in humanitarian aid amid Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel, sources familiar told Fox News.
Deputy Treasury Secretary met with House Democrats on Thursday. Sources familiar with the meeting told Fox News that Adeyemo told lawmakers that the U.S. has a quiet agreement with Qatar not to move any of the $6 billion in unfrozen money to Iran for an indefinite period.
A source present in the room told Fox News Digital that Adeyemo told congressional Democrats in that meeting that the U.S. has reached “quiet understanding” with Qatar not to move the $6 billion in funding.
A senior House aide told Fox News that Congress has not received an official notification from the State Department or the Biden administration freezing the funding. The aide said it was not mentioned in the briefing on the matter earlier Thursday.
In September, the Biden administration made a deal with Iran to swap prisoners and release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds.
As part of the deal, Iran released five American citizens detained in Iran and the U.S. released five Iranian citizens being held in the U.S. The deal also created a blanket waiver to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar without fear of violating U.S. sanctions. Administration officials say the funds can only be used for “humanitarian needs like food and medicine.”
The unfreezing of the money took place nearly a month before Hamas terrorists launched a massive, deadly attack on Israel over the weekend.
At least 27 Americans have been killed in the terror attacks. An unknown number of Americans are being held hostage by Hamas, U.S. officials say.
Iran is a known backer of Hamas and praised the attacks on Israel. The State Department has stated in the past that Iran provides some $100 million a year to Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats have been urging President Biden to refreeze the assets — something Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeatedly said the Biden administration has the ability to do.
“We retain the right to freeze them,” Blinken said during a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
U.S. officials have stressed that none of the funds have been accessed by Iran.
Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, John Kirby, said Thursday that the $6 billion is “still sitting in the Qatari bank, all of it. Every, every dime of it.”
When pressed on the “agreement” to withhold the money, Kirby stressed again that “none of that money has been spent,” but provided “no updates.”
“I’m not going to talk about diplomatic conversations one way or another. And what I can tell you is that every single dime of that money is still sitting in a country bank. Not one of it, not one dime of it has been spent,” he said. “The regime was never going to see a dime of that money. And this account, although it’s moved from South Korea to Qatar, was set up by the previous administration for this exact purpose. In fact, I think it was back in 2018, the former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, actually talked in quite some detail about how this money and these accounts could only be used for humanitarian purposes, and that there was going to be oversight.”
“We’ve done nothing different,” he continued. “Even if they had access to it, it wouldn’t go to the regime. It would go to approved vendors that we approved to go buy food, medicine and medical equipment, agricultural products, and ship it into Iran directly to the benefit of the Iranian people.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., introduced legislation that would freeze the $6 billion account. The bill is the House companion bill to legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Senate. The legislation also prohibits the administration from further lifting sanctions or providing additional relief for Iran.
Original News : https://news.yahoo.com/us-qatar-quiet-agreement-block-195243112.html