Several Republican and Democratic senators on Thursday lamented the Biden administration’s lack of ability to seize Iranian oil and gas shipments despite a US government agency being tasked with doing so.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) was formed in 2019 and has seized nearly $230 million in Iranian crude and fuel oil linked to the IRGC’s Quds Force, according to the bipartisan letter sent to President Joe Biden.
Revenues from seized Iranian oil go to the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.
“It is unacceptable that a US government program, which makes the United States and its allies safer, provides funds to remediate the victims of terrorism, and generates income for the United States in a cost-effective manner has been allowed to languish,” read the letter, led by Senators Joni Ernst, a Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat.
Other senators that signed the letter included Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, Lindsey Graham, Maggie Hassan, Mark Kelly, Joe Manchin, Jerry Moran, Marco Rubio, Kyrsten Sinema, and Ron Wyden.
“The failure to support HSI’s Iranian oil seizure and disruption operations in FY22, despite available funds, is a policy choice that must be reversed,” the senators said.
According to their letter, at the end of Fiscal Year 2021, there was an unobligated balance of $286.55 million.
And, in FY22, they said there was an obligated balance of $70.915 million.
“As Iranian oil sales continue to rise, and the IRGC continues to target US citizens and servicemembers, including inside the US, it is imperative that we use all available government assets to limit the activities of the Iranian regime,” the letter read.
On Thursday, the US Navy said that Iran illegally seized a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in the Gulf of Oman, calling it another kind of “harassing activity” by Tehran that destabilizes the region.