November 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Receives Access to $10 Billion Thanks to U.S. Sanctions Waiver

November 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran Receives Access to $10 Billion Thanks to U.S. Sanctions Waiver

Latest Developments

The Biden administration on November 14 extended a sanctions waiver to allow Iran to access upwards of $10 billion in electricity revenue once held in escrow in Iraq. The waiver allows Baghdad to continue purchasing electricity from Iran and, in a change from past policy, for Iran to convert its revenue into euros and draw on the money for budget imports out of Iraq and Oman.

The extension comes just over a month after Hamas — a terrorist group armed and funded by the regime in Tehran — conducted a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis and kidnapping more than 240. Other proxies financed and armed by Tehran have attacked U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria with rockets and drones.

Expert Analysis

“President Biden deserves great credit for supporting Israel’s campaign to destroy Hamas. President Biden deserves strong condemnation for greenlighting the funding of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the main financier of and weapons supplier for the horrific October 7 attacks on Israel. It is beyond belief that he would make available $10 billion for a regime that will turn around and use this money to wage war against America and Israel.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Five weeks after the October 7 massacre and in the wake of 55 attacks on U.S. forces since October 17, the idea of making $10 billion available to the sponsor of all this evil makes little sense. Congress rightfully pushed to lock down the $6 billion in Qatar; it should move quickly to lock down this $10 billion too.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Waiver Part of Unacknowledged Nuclear Deal

The new waiver extended for 120 days a U.S. waiver first issued in July that gave Iran access to the $10 billion in electricity revenue held in escrow in Iraq. It remains unclear whether Iran has spent any of the $10 billion since July. The July waiver came as part of an unacknowledged nuclear understanding between the United States and Iran, evading the congressional review requirement of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Weeks later, the administration agreed to release another $6 billion in Iranian funds frozen in South Korea as part of a deal to secure the release of Tehran’s American hostages

According to the Associated Press, U.S. officials insist Iran can only spend the released funds on humanitarian purchases, including food, medicine, medical equipment, and agricultural goods. Yet opponents of the waiver note that money is fungible and that the waiver will allow the regime to free up funds to continue arming its anti-U.S. and anti-Israel proxies.

Funding Terrorist Groups

Iran has armed and funded terrorist groups for years. Iran provides Hamas $100 million annually and about $700 million per year to Hezbollah, in addition to numerous other terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. These groups, like the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon, also receive advanced weapons from Tehran, including guided munitions made in Iran. Iran further funds Shiite proxies that have attacked American forces in the region 55 times since October 17.

Congress Should Take Away Iran’s $10 Billion Sanctions Relief,” by Richard Goldberg

Iraq to Pay Iran with Oil for Billions of Dollars in Debt,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran-Backed Militias Attack U.S. Forces in Iraq,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Sanctions Israel Israel at War Sanctions and Illicit Finance