Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) have penned a letter to Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin urging him to pressure world leaders to ban Iran from accessing international financial systems, after it was revealed that the Obama administration covertly helped Tehran sidestep international sanctions and potentially tap into billions in hard currency.
Iran was taken off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist as part of an incentive package provided by Obama in the runup to the landmark nuclear deal killed by President Trump in early May.
"In the push to save its deeply flawed nuclear deal, the Obama administration unwisely backed a wide range of economic relief for Iran - including through the FATF. In June 2016 the administration supported the FATF's decision to suspend "counter-measures" against Iran for one year, following Tehran's submission of an Action Plan to the FATF to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing policies."
For the last two years, the FATF has continued to suspend these countermeasures at six-month intervals, despite the continued dangerous and belligerent actions of the Iranian regime. Many reports have indicated the regime in Tehran actually increased financial support for its terror proxies in the wake of the nuclear deal.
Portman and Royce - chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, say that new revelations uncovered through Congressional investigations in to the Obama administration's secret diplomacy with Iran make it all the more important for the Trump administration to take concrete steps against Iran's terror support networks.
The FATF will meet next week in Paris, where Portman and Royce hope to see substantive action against Iran.
"This upcoming FATF session is particularly important following the recent release of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations' report exposing new details about the previous administration's efforts to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system, including through consideration of a general license for the ëconversion of two non-USD currencies through the limited use of the USD as an intermediate currency,'" wrote the lawmakers.
"It's time to recognize that Iran has failed to take the necessary stepsódespite its pledges two years agoóto be removed from the list of FATFís high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions," the letter states. "The United States should now utilize its influence within the FATF to reimpose countermeasures against Iran and protect the international financial system."