June 22, 2024

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen kept open the possibility of refreezing $6 billion worth of Iranian oil revenue currently being held in Qatar.

“I wouldn’t take anything off the table in terms of possible future action, but I certainly don’t want to get ahead of ourselves now,” Yellen said at a press conference Wednesday at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank being held this week in Marrakech, Morocco.

The funds, released to Iran under certain conditions as part of a prisoner-exchange deal in September, have come under new scrutiny since Hamas’s attack on Israel. Some Israeli officials say there is a direct link between Iran and the attack by the Gaza-based group, which the U.S. and other Western nations have designated as a terrorist organization.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, this week called for Yellen to testify on the release of the $6 billion.

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement

“The Senate should also investigate what led the Biden administration to allow a transfer of $6 billion to Iran and how it could expect Iran to not use that money to continue to fuel terrorism,” Scott said.

Yellen said the funds were made available solely for humanitarian purposes, such as food and medicine.

“These funds have not been touched,” she said.

The Biden administration has previously said it has the power to refreeze the funds, which were released after the U.S. waived sanctions allowing banks to convert the money that had been blocked in South Korea and transfer it to Qatar’s central bank.

Yellen also said the U.S. has “not in any way” relaxed sanctions on Iranian oil.

“We have sanctions on Hamas, on Hizbollah,” she said. “This is something we’ve been constantly looking at, and using information that comes available to tighten sanctions, we will continue to do that.”

Paola Tamma contributed to this story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *