U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed concerns that Iran will use its newly found billions of dollars in sanctions relief to ramp up its support for international terrorism.
Speaking to the BBC after the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers was reached, Kerry said that the more than $100 billion that Iran is set to receive “is going to make all the difference in the world is just – it’s not true.”
Acknowledging Iran is an international player in wreaking terror across the globe, Kerry said, “What Iran has done for years with Hezbollah does not depend on money.” He similarly stated Iran’s support of the Houthi rebels against the government in Yemen has not “depended on money.”
“Sure, something may go additionally somewhere,” Kerry added. “But if President [Hasan] Rouhani and his administration do not [use the money to] take care of the people of Iran, they will have an enormous problem.”
Earlier this year, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted the U.S. would have no control over Iran’s use of monies freed by sanctions relief. However, he said it was “common sense” Iran would use the money to pump up its economy that was devastated by the international sanctions and not put the money into terrorism.
Still, Earnest said, “I’m not going to make any predictions about what they are going to do, and I’m certainly not going to be in a position to prescribe what they should do,” he said. “This is a sovereign country that will make their own decisions.”
Kerry contended it was the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community that Iranian money “that finds its way somewhere, is not the difference in what is happening in the Middle East.”
However, many contend that Kerry’s prognosis is not rooted in fact. Up until the 9/11 attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda, the State Department reported Hezbollah was “responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist group.”
In its most recent report, the State Department wrote, “Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Lebanese Hezbollah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran.”
In 2010 alone, State reported “Iran provides roughly $100-$200 million per year in funding to support Hezbollah.”
Efforts by Republicans in Congress to make the current deal contingent on Iran removing its support for terrorism failed earlier this year when U.S. President Barack Obama said he would veto any such legislation.
Meanwhile, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence services and the kingdom's ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, said the current deal will result in Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and "wreak havoc in the region."
He also contended America's traditional allies in the Arab world are now distrustful of the U.S. and looking elsewhere to make alliances. Writing in The Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper, bin Sultan commented, "People in my region now are relying on God's will and consolidating their local capabilities and analysis with everybody else except our oldest and most powerful ally."
Currently, Hezbollah is backing troops loyal to beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad who have been trying to recapture the city of Zabadani, located in a hilly region in southwestern Syria.