Biden has a secret, illegal deal with Iran that gives mullahs everything they want
By Richard Goldberg
September 12, 2023
In the latest phase of an unacknowledged and unlawful nuclear deal between the United States and Iran, President Joe Biden this week formally approved giving the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism another $6 billion — ostensibly for the release of five Americans held hostage in Tehran.
But in bypassing Congress to avoid a political fight he knows he’d lose, Biden is not only guaranteeing more hostage-taking of American citizens, he’s also subsidizing Iran’s terrorism, military support for Russia, nuclear-weapons capabilities and repression of Iranian women.
In May, a top White House official visited Oman to pass a message to Tehran: Washington wants to broker a nuclear deal in secret.
Biden would lift sanctions restrictions on Iranian funds held outside its borders, and in exchange Iran would slow its steady march toward a nuclear-weapons threshold.
Iran would be free to continue hunting former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, former Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook and other Americans.
Tehran could keep directing attacks against Israel through its Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror proxies.
The mullahs could keep providing armed drones to Vladimir Putin for use against the Ukrainian people.
The regime could even keep producing high-enriched uranium just a stone’s throw from weapons-grade, manufacturing advanced centrifuges, developing longer-range missiles, denying access to international nuclear inspectors and constructing a new underground facility that could prove invulnerable to military action.
Biden’s only demands: Don’t move across the nuclear threshold by producing weapons-grade uranium and release five American citizens held hostage in Iran.
For Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the deal was a dream come true.
On the nuclear front, Iran gives up nothing. The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog last week reported that Iran is still expanding its stockpile of high-enriched uranium, just at a slower rate.
As for the five American hostages — at a cost of $1.2 billion a person — Khamenei will merely restock his collection of American hostages for a future extortion racket.
Meanwhile, Iran gets to use billions of dollars in budget support to subsidize a wide range of illicit activities.
In June and July, the Biden administration unfroze more than $10 billion of Iranian assets held in Iraq, allowing Baghdad to move payments for Iranian electricity into accounts in Oman established for Tehran’s use — payments that will continue on a rolling basis.
Now comes $6 billion more transferred to accounts in Qatar, providing the regime additional budget support.
Multiple reports also suggest Washington is allowing Tehran to trade $7 billion in International Monetary Fund special drawing rights for fiat currency.
At the same time, US officials now admit they’re allowing Iranian oil exports to China to skyrocket with estimates ranging from 1.4 to 2.2 million barrels per day flowing in August — their highest levels since President Donald Trump ended America’s participation in the old Iran nuclear deal.
Conservative estimates put this sanctions relief at $25 billion in annual revenue. Iran is now eyeing the transfer of another $3 billion from Japan.
All told, this is at least a $50 billion protection racket — not just a $6 billion hostage payment.
How can this occur without Congress holding one hearing or one vote? Because the deal was negotiated in secret and the White House insists there is no deal.
To acknowledge an agreement would trigger a 2015 law, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, that prohibits sanctions relief for Iran tied to its nuclear activities until Congress has been afforded 30 days to review and potentially reject the deal.
Given Iran’s assassination plots targeting US officials, arm transfers to Russia and crackdowns on women, the White House knows that a vote on a deal that pays Iran to expand rather than curtail its nuclear-weapons capabilities would be rejected on a bipartisan basis in the House and Senate.
And with job-approval numbers sagging on the eve of his reelection year, waging a political battle over a dangerous nuclear deal is a distraction his aides want to avoid.
Congress shouldn’t stand for this flagrant abuse of power and evasion of the law.
Oversight committees should demand all documents related to the secret nuclear negotiations.
The House should also pass a joint resolution of disapproval rejecting the new deal and putting pressure on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold a vote as well.
New legislation to prevent the executive from releasing more money should also be considered.
President Biden is mortgaging our national security to rent a false sense of nuclear quiet in Tehran until next November. Congress must not let him get away with it.
Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former National Security Council official and senior US Senate aide.