The United States officially confirmed Wednesday that it allowed Iraq to release $2.7 billion of its debts to the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to reports.
Washington officials claim that the latest efforts are part of a humanitarian effort that has been taking place since the Trump was in office.
Speaking to reporters in a recent press briefing, Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said that the regime in Tehran “can only access its funds held in accounts for Iraq for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable transactions.”
Miller added that the transactions are consistent with U.S. law and in full coordination with the government of Iraq while all Iran-related sanctions continue to be enacted.
In early June, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein was reportedly given the clearance during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Riyadh Conference.
A source from the Iraqi foreign ministry said funds would be transferred through the Commercial Bank of Iraq.
Iranian officials claim the funds will be used for Iranian Hajj pilgrims’ expenses and food items imported by Tehran.
As reporters questioned the State Dept.’s actions, many noted Miller’s increasing discomfort in answering their questions, tripping over his words, and backtracking as things heated up. When asked about direct talks with Iran over a return to the Iran nuclear deal, Miller described such reports as “false” and misleading.
Reporters felt frustrated and confused by Miller’s denials over the Oman talks. “We have always had the ability to deliver messages to Iran when it’s in the interests of the U.S. to do so,” Miller told reporters.
The Foreign Desk has reached out to the State Dept. and awaits a response.
The State Dept.’s actions and Miller’s response come as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu addressed the news of new negotiations between U.S. and Iranian officials in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Netanyahu stated that a deal is underway between Washington and Tehran, reiterating claims that an agreement between the two nations will not bind Israel, which “will continue to do everything to defend itself.”
“Over 90% of our security problems stem from Iran and its proxies, and our policy is aimed at increasing the circle of peace, to stop Iran and its proxies,” no matter what deals are struck between Iran and other nations, emphasizing the government’s “opposition to a return to the original JCPOA agreement,” Netanyahu said.
Should Iran reach the necessary threshold for an atomic warhead, Netanyahu and Israeli military leaders have vowed that the Jewish state will not stand idly by as the world’s number one state-sponsor of terrorism obtains the means to destroy Israel in one fell swoop.
In the past few years, the Israeli military has engaged in aerial attacks in the Persian Gulf alongside the U.S. military, sending a stern message to Iran and its terrorist proxies.
Despite warnings from Israeli military and government officials, the Biden administration is holding out for a nuclear agreement with Tehran.
In Iran, officials from the Islamic Republic are seeking even more concessions from the U.S. and Western countries while maintaining that its nuclear program is for “peaceful purposes.”