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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi contradicted the Biden administration’s claims this week about how the Islamic Republic of Iran can spend the $6 billion in assets that the administration unfroze in exchange for five Americans held captive in Iran.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the deal last week, and Congress was notified Monday as lawmakers and officials honored the 22nd anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
In exchange for the prisoners, the United States will issue a waiver for banks in South Korea and Qatar to allow Iran access to billions of dollars without fear of violating U.S. sanctions. The funds will be transferred to Qatar’s central bank, where the Iranian government can make requests to pay for humanitarian goods out of the account.
National Security Council Spokeswoman Adrienne Watson claimed that the process ensures that the funds “remain restricted to humanitarian trade.”
Raisi, however, contradicted those claims during an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt in Tehran.
“What is your expectation of its [the money’s] use?” Holt asked. “We’re told that it’s for humanitarian purposes — food and medicine. Do you believe you have the right to use that money in any way that you see fit?”
“This money belongs to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and naturally, we will decide, the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide to spend it wherever we need it,” Raisi answered. “How to spend our money of course, it is under the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Holt responded by asked, “So if I hear you clearly that it will be used for more than humanitarian purposes in your view?”
“Humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people need, so this money will be budgeted for those needs,” Raisi said. “And the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says they'll use the $6 billion from the Biden Admin "wherever we need it … as determined by the Iranian government" pic.twitter.com/KMLUfk2xhl
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 12, 2023