Buchanan: Cash to Iran “Outrageous and Unacceptable”
Congressman Backs Bill to Ban Future Payments
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said today Congress should immediately pass legislation to ban any further payments to Iran following reports that the Obama administration shipped more than $1.7 billion in untraceable cash to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime earlier this year.
In addition to the $400 million delivered to Iran in hard foreign currency in January, the Obama administration sent two more shipments to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism over the next 19 days amounting to $1.3 billion, according to media reports.
Buchanan noted the payments are on top of the estimated $100 billion in formerly frozen assets Iran now has access to as a result of last year’s nuclear deal.
“The recent series of cash payments to Iran by the administration is a fundamental threat to global security,” Buchanan said. “This new, dangerous policy of sending cash to a nation that funds terrorism is outrageous, unacceptable and needs to end. Negotiating with an American enemy while providing them with billions of dollars will put more Americans in danger and escalate terrorism around the globe.
Buchanan called on Congress to pass the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, legislation that prohibits cash payments to Iran, and forces the administration to provide notice to Congress that payment of a settlement is impending in order to make sure the payment does not constitute ransom.
The legislation also censures the Obama administration for violating American policy by paying a ransom in exchange for hostages.
According to press reports, $400 million in euros, Swiss francs and other hard currency was flown into Iran on wooden pallets on Jan. 17, the same day four Americans were released from Tehran.
The administration claimed it was obligated to send Iran the money as part of a decades-old dispute. The administration has repeatedly refuted the claim that the cash payment was a “ransom,” after the report surfaced, but later conceded the money was used as “leverage” to ensure the safety and release of the American prisoners.
Buchanan added that since receiving the initial $400 million payment Iranians have continued to take American citizens hostage and refused to help the United States find Robert Levinson, a Floridian and former FBI agent who went missing in Iran years ago.
“Appeasing the Islamic regime has become the approach of this administration,” Buchanan said. “I’m under no illusion that the same people who chant ‘death to America’ in their streets will somehow hate us less because we send them cash and cut deals with them. We need to limit Iran’s ability to attack the U.S. and its allies.”
The U.S. House has repeatedly acted, with Buchanan’s strong support, to crack down on Iran’s ability to access capital and stop funds from pouring into Tehran. These bills, now pending in the Senate, include:
- The Iran Accountability Act of 2016 – imposes new sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and continuing to test its ballistic missile program – a violation of a key UN Security Council resolution.
- The U.S. Financial System Protection Act – prohibits the Obama administration from allowing the U.S. dollar to be used to facilitate trade transactions with the Iranian government and Iranian banks.
- Enhancing Treasury’s Anti-Terror Tools Act – requires the Treasury Department to investigate how to incorporate U.S. embassies into counter-terrorism financing efforts, and adds the Secretary of the Treasury to the National Security Council.