Is Janet Yellen Telling the Truth About Iran Sanctions? The Islamic Republic’s Coffers Are Bulging

The Biden administration is refusing to execute congressional law on dealing with Iran.

AP/Shuji Kajiyama, pool, file
Secretary Yellen at Niigata, Japan, May 11, 2023. AP/Shuji Kajiyama, pool, file

The secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, yesterday swore up and down that the Bidens have in no way relaxed the economic sanctions on Iranian oil, adding that “we have sanctions on Hamas. On Hezbollah, this is something we have been constantly looking at and using information that comes available to tighten sanctions.”

So, here is my problem with that statement: A couple of years ago, Iran was producing about 400,000 barrels of oil a day, while today it’s producing about 3.5 million barrels a day and is on its way to 4 million, according to industry observers. Now, where’d that come from? You don’t suppose sanctions were lifted so they could sell it, do you?

Wait a minute, here are some more numbers. Iran has a favorite customer: China. In 2020, Iran sold China roughly $6.5 billion worth of oil. In 2021 that mysteriously jumped to $23 billion. Then last year, that oil sale number leaped to $30 billion. Well, where did all that come from?

If we didn’t lift the sanctions, how come Iran is producing and selling all that oil? Odd story, isn’t it? What’s it worth to Iran? Anyway, it’s at least another $60 billion worth of revenue.

The $6 billion controversy from the hostage exchange is small here. The oil sales numbers are everything.

As the Mideast’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism, that $60 billion could have gone to Hamas and Hezbollah, which were aiming to destroy Israel. That’s a likely guess, don’t you think?

U.S. intelligence is actually telling us Iran didn’t fund, or plan, or mastermind this hideous Hamas massacre. Really? Meanwhile, a Hamas bigshot, Ali Baraka, told Russian TV, “Our allies are those that support us with weapons and money. First and foremost it is Iran that is giving us money and weapons.”

Where did that Iranian money come from? Energy sales. Now, how are all those energy sales possible? A relaxation of sanctions. That’s how.

One more factoid: Iranian foreign exchange reserves were about $4 billion three years ago. Today, that number is estimated to be $70 billion. Where did Iran get all that money? You guessed it: a relaxation of sanctions.

Here’s a quote from my longtime pal, Elliott Abrams, a foreign policy expert writing in National Review: “Hamas depends heavily on Iranian funding. Iran was broke when Donald Trump left office, but is now pretty flush in cash. That’s not just because of the recent deal … for U.S. hostages…. But because the Biden administration has not been enforcing U.S. oil sanctions.”

I’m gonna get a little technical here, but it will not be painful, I promise.

First, Congress on numerous occasions has mandated economic sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and Hezbollah. That’s the law. Second, there are two kinds of sanctions.

One is primary sanctions that prohibit citizens and companies of the sanctioning country from engaging with the sanctioned country. Think America and Russia post-Crimea and now post-Ukraine invasion.

Second, there are secondary sanctions that stop third parties from banking or engaging in commerce with the sanctioned country. Recent U.S. sanctions against Iran illustrate this example.

U.S. secondary sanctions gave banks around the world a choice: Either stop dealing with Iranian banks or lose access to the U.S. dollar financial system. That’s the tough stuff.

If France bought oil from Iran, say, France would be cut off from the entire U.S. dollar system under secondary sanctions. France would be cut from something called the Fed Wire. In the private banking system, France would be cut off from something called the clearing house.

The execution of these sanctions is all monitored by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. If the Biden administration were implementing primary and secondary sanctions on Iran, then the Iranian outlaws wouldn’t be producing nearly 4 million barrels of oil a day or selling more $30 billion worth of exports to China or accumulating some $70 billion worth of foreign exchange reserves. Trust me on this.

So, Ms. Yellen is telling us a big fib when she denies that sanctions haven’t been relaxed. It’s kinda similar to her earlier fib that there is no inflation. Remember that one?

The reality is, Congress has mandated the tools to keep Iran in poverty and thus deny Hamas all the financing to cut off babies’ heads and murder grannies in bed. Trouble is, the Bidens won’t execute the congressional law.

From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business News.


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