National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan refused on Tuesday to commit to freezing the $6 billion of Iranian funds that the United States unfroze before Hamas attacked Israel.
“You just laid out all the ways that Iran is complicit and facilitated it … is that reason enough to re-freeze the $6 billion that the U.S. helped unlock for them?” a reporter asked Sullivan during a press conference.
“We have not yet had a dollar of that $6 billion spent, and I will leave it at that,” he replied.
Iranian security officials reportedly played a key role in planning Hamas’s surprise strike over the weekend. Iran helped plan the attack and “gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday,” senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah told the Wall Street Journal.
The Washington Post confirmed the Journal’s report. Hamas planned the attack “with key support from Iranian allies who provided military training and logistical help as well as tens of millions of dollars for weapons,” current and former Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials told the Post.
It remains unclear what precise role Iran played in terror.
President Joe Biden’s Tuesday speech about the attack notably ended without mentioning Iran. He did mention that Hamas took American hostages.
“We now know that American citizens are among those being held by Hamas,” the president said.
“I’ve directed my team to share intelligence and deploy additional experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts,” he added. “Because as president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world.”
The Biden administration’s mild handing of Iran comes as Senate Republicans demanded the Biden administration freeze the funds after Hamas attacked Israel.
“We write today to affirm our unwavering support for Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, and call on the U.S. Department of State to freeze the accounts in Qatar containing $6 billion in Iranian funds that were released from South Korean accounts in September,” 18 Senate Republicans wrote President Joe Biden.
“We must stand with Israel and restrict access to these Iranian funds,” they wrote. “Iran should be placed under the most stringent sanctions admissible. Anything short of this is unacceptable and only aids in the ability of Iran and Hamas to fund these heinous acts.”