October 7, 2023, will live in infamy as the deadliest day for the Jewish people since World War II. On that day, the terrorist group Hamas unleashed a massive surprise attack, launching thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and slaughtering hundreds of civilians — Israelis, Americans and others — in towns near the border with Gaza.
This barbarism would not have been possible without the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yet, President Joe Biden might still hand the ayatollahs over $6 billion. This week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and I will introduce legislation to permanently block this payment.
Iran has bankrolled and supported Hamas for decades. Iran funds Hamas’ political organization in the Gaza Strip. Iran assisted Hamas in manufacturing the rockets that it is firing into Israeli cities. Iran instructed Hamas in how to build and operate the armed drones that it is flying towards Israeli civilian targets. And Iran trained many of the Hamas terrorists committing atrocities against Israel.
Most damning, Iran provided direct assistance in planning the October 7 attacks. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) helped plot the October 7 attacks since August, the same month Biden announced that he would give Iran $6 billion. Iran’s foreign minister attended at least two meetings with Hamas and the IRGC to discuss the attacks.
Iran gave Hamas the money, the arms, the training, and the plans to commit mass murder against one of America’s closest allies. After Hamas committed these acts of evil against Israel — killing 27 Americans in the process — Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the attacks, writing “God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region.”
Even Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has acknowledged Iran’s “broad complicity” in the devastating October 7 attacks.
Just recently, another Iranian-backed terrorist organization, Hezbollah, began its own attacks against Israel, launching rockets and drones from Lebanon. Like Hamas, Hezbollah would likely not exist without Iran’s backing.
While Iran bankrolls terrorists, Biden bankrolls Iran. Since taking office, Joe Biden has helped unfreeze at least $10 billion in Iranian assets. And through his administration’s lax enforcement of sanctions, Biden has also helped Iran make an estimated $80 billion in oil profits since 2021.
It’s no coincidence that Iran doubled its funding for the IRGC — the very military branch that plotted the October 7 attack — to $22 billion last year. It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that Iran used some of the $90 billion Biden Dividend to strengthen the terrorist arm of its military.
Now, Iran could receive another $6 billion in cash. This $6 billion payment is part of an ill-conceived hostage deal that Biden concluded with the Iranians, which provides the ayatollahs with the equivalent dollar amount of over half a squadron of F-35s per hostage.
The administration assures critics that this $6 billion can only be used for humanitarian purposes — something the Iranian government denies. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has said that his government will spend the $6 billion “wherever we need it.”
Raisi even redefined the word “humanitarian” in an interview with Lester Holt, saying “humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people needs, so this money will be budgeted for those needs, and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government.”
Even if we believed the administration — which we shouldn’t — money is fungible, meaning that if Iran spends $6 billion less on civilian projects, it will have $6 billion more to spend on its military. The risk is simply too great.
Under public pressure, the Biden administration decided yesterday to delay the release of this $6 billion. However, it refuses to say that these funds will remain frozen permanently.
That is why McConnell and I are introducing a bill to prevent Biden from making this $6 billion payment to Iran in the future.
I will also work with my fellow senators to end Iran’s Biden Dividend, by strengthening existing sanctions and returning to a policy of maximum economic pressure.
There is no such thing as purely economic or humanitarian assistance to a terrorist state. Any U.S. payment to the Iranian government constitutes public financing for terrorism. The United States government should not give Iran another red cent.