New York, NY, June 15, 2023 – In response to indirect talks between the United States and Iran, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen, Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir, Secretary Dr. Ben Chouake, and Treasurer Michael Melnicke released the following statement:
“The United States is trying to avert a new Iran crisis by pushing Tehran to cap a growing nuclear program in exchange for unfreezing billions in Iranian funds locked by U.S. sanctions. Iran today is the only non-nuclear-weapons state in the world that has been stockpiling 60%-enriched uranium for more than two years. This is enough material for two nuclear weapons and can be converted into weapons-grade “in a matter of days,” according to a Wall Street Journal report that offers exclusive insight into complex negotiations underway between Washington and Tehran – from meetings in New York to several rounds of indirect talks in Oman that involve unfreezing billions of dollars and potentially releasing Americans detained by Tehran.
The significance of this round of diplomacy can hardly be overstated. If Iran escalates to weapons-grade fissile material, this “will result in an Israeli strike,” warned a senior official in the Government of Israel this week. A senior Biden administration official seemed to echo this view in remarks to the Journal, alluding to a “very, dangerous situation, Iran and the world knows that.”
It is important to note that the U.S. Government has applied stringent mechanisms to ensure that Iran will not misuse $2.7 billion in frozen Iranian funds that Washington allowed Iraq to release to Tehran. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller confirmed: “Iran can only access its funds held in accounts for Iraq for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable transactions;” that every withdrawal from the account by Iran is screened for meeting this metric, and that all Iran-related sanctions continue to be upheld.
Unfreezing of Iranian assets stirs legitimate concerns about the Iranian regime using these funds to prop up its allies and fund terrorism. The American Jewish Congress recalls with satisfaction U.S. Government’s demonstrated record of holding Iran accountable. This was reiterated this week by State Department spokesman Mr. Miller: “No one has been more at the forefront of holding Iran accountable for its malign activities in the region, no one has been more at the forefront of calling out Iran for its malign activities in the United States. That has been our policy since the beginning of the Administration, and that will continue.”
The U.S. Government’s reference to malign activity orchestrated by Iran on American soil is significant, especially when it comes amid ongoing talks. In 2021, the FBI busted an Iranian intelligence team that plotted to assassinate an Iranian-American journalist. In 2022, a suspected Hezbollah sympathizer tried to kill a prominent author in New York in response to incitement by Iranian leaders.
The American Jewish Congress reiterates its support for tackling the range of troubling Iranian behavior, using the regime’s economic and political troubles to drive a better deal, and calling out Tehran’s attempts to extract concessions from the international community by unfair means, including kidnapping Americans and citizens of third countries, and hijacking oil tankers in the Gulf.“