The money Iran collected from the nuclear deal it made with the West is being used to strengthen its military, allowing it to pose an even more dangerous threat to areas in the Middle East.
Regional reports say that at the end of April, Iranian officials announced Iran's defense budget had increased by 145% under President Hassan Rouhani, adding that Iran wanted its military to become "a forward moving force." Last October, legislators told The Washington Free Beacon that U.S. taxpayer funds were likely being used to sponsor attacks on American military forces.
The Beacon reports, “Leading members of Congress and U.S. officials working on the Iran portfolio suspect that at least a portion of the Obama administration's $1.7 billion cash payment to Iran has been used to fund and support terrorists in the Middle East.”
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), who fought against the nuclear deal, told The Washington Free Beacon, "President Obama flat-out caved in to Iran when he handed them the disastrous nuclear deal and $1.7 billion in cash payments that could assist Iran's military. So it's no surprise that the world's lead sponsor of terrorism would feel emboldened to become more aggressive in the region and flex its military muscle."
Mahan Abedin, reporting in Middle East Eye, wrote, "This is a major policy announcement with far-reaching consequences for foreign policy and internal defense-related power dynamics. If implemented properly, Heidari's proposed modernization policy would not only radically alter Iranian defense doctrine, but just as importantly, it would also reverse the army's subservient relationship to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)."
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, told The Free Beacon that Iran using the funds to bolster its military should be "no surprise to anyone who studied Iran," adding, "First, there's history: Between 1998 and 2005, European Union trade with Iran more than doubled and the price of oil quintupled. Iran took that hard currency windfall and invested the bulk of it in its nuclear and missile programs. The person coordinating Iran's strategy? Hassan Rouhani who was at the time secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. Obama and Kerry might as well have wired the money directly into the accounts of those seeking to enhance Iran's military, kill Sunnis, or sponsor terrorism.”
A senior congressional source told The Beacon, "This is certainly grounds for concern. An Iranian military buildup coupled with an offensive posture is a threat to the United States and our allies. This also serves as an important reminder of why the Obama administration's cash infusion to Iran was so dangerous." He pointed out that the funds are "fungible and hence can be used for everything from sponsoring terror proxies to developing ballistic missiles. Congress will continue to take action to counter Iranian terrorism and ensure this regime never acquires a nuclear weapon."
A senior congressional adviser working to reimpose sanctions on Iran said, "The Iranians know that the party will end this fall, when Congress will pass bipartisan legislation that begins to roll back Iran's military growth … The Obama administration avoided any serious action for years, and so Iran kept growing its arsenal and using it against our allies, against Syrian civilians, and increasingly against our military. Now they're rushing to accomplish as much as they can before Congress and the Trump administration get around to reversing Obama's policies."