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U.S. Senate Republicans press Biden administration for details on Iran sanctions waiver

Led by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), a group of 25 Republican senators wrote to secretaries within the Biden administration and pressed them for answers to the lack of a unified strategy on Iran, the country’s long-time adversary in the Middle East.

Particularly grating to the lawmakers was the recent decision to extend an Iran sanctions waiver at a time when Iran and its proxies have been repeatedly accused of supporting Hamas in Palestine as it wages a war with Israel. In November the Biden administration extended a sanctions waiver to Iran to access approximately $10 billion currently being held in escrow accounts that may only be used for humanitarian trade, U.S. officials have said.

“A strong signal of deterrence—utilizing military, economic, and diplomatic tools—is needed if we want to stop the attacks against U.S. personnel and prevent the war in Gaza from expanding into a protracted regional conflict,” the senators wrote in a Nov. 30 letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “Unfortunately, the administration’s military and economic responses to Iran and its proxies have not only been disproportionate, they appear to be completely disjointed.”

In October, a number of senators also cosponsored a bill to freeze $6 billion made available to Iran, as a reimposition of certain sanctions. Now, the senators have pressed for several departments to provide a classified assessment on the administration’s plan to confront perceived Iranian aggression and escalation, including an estimation of how it has already leveraged and could continue leveraging assets against the United States.

“We therefore request that your departments provide us with a classified assessment on the administration’s plan to deter Iranian aggression and prevent the escalation of conflict in the Middle East,” the senators wrote.

Chris Galford

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