Bipartisan group of lawmakers urge Biden to sanction Iran over Hamas

October 17, 2023

A bipartisan group of 113 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Biden, urging the White House to “hold Iran accountable for its role in supporting Hamas,” CNN reported Tuesday.

The letter urges Biden to “take all necessary steps to cut off Iranian funding sources…This includes maximum enforcement of all U.S. sanctions, and taking any and all steps to end Iran’s oil trade to China, which currently brings in $150 million per day in revenue.”

Signed by 63 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the missive further notes that on Wednesday, the United Nations’ ballistic missile sanctions against Iran is set to expire under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the 2015 deal that was signed by the U.S., the U.K., China, France, Russia, Germany and Iran, but that President Trump dismantled in 2018.

The expiration of those sanctions “cannot be allowed to happen,” the lawmakers wrote to Biden. “We urge your Administration to work with our European allies to immediately implement snapback sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council.”

They further urge the U.S. to put significant pressure on Qatar and Turkey “to cease their support for Hamas and expel Hamas leadership that they host.”

This past Thursday the U.S. and Qatar have agreed to stop Iran from being able to tap an unfrozen $6 billion following Hamas’ attack on Israel. The funds had been unfrozen last month as part of a prisoner swap for five wrongfully detained Americans. Qatar was charged with ensuring the money went solely to humanitarian needs.

While specific intelligence collected by the U.S. suggests that top Iranian officials were caught by surprise by Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, Iran over the years has provided Hamas with tens of millions of dollars, weapons and other materials smuggled into Gaza. At present, however, Tehran reportedly doesn’t have advisers on the ground in blockaded Gaza, nor does it command the terrorist organization’s activities.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested last week that the door remains open to possible punitive measures against Iran, including additional sanctions. And on Sunday National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the Biden Administration was engaged in backchannel diplomacy with Tehran, urging restraint against escalating the crisis further.

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