(DailyVantage.com) – Lawmakers wrote a letter to President Joe Biden demanding action in a stalled initiative meant to seize Iranian oil. The letter is a bipartisan effort that includes 12 senators led by Sen. Joni Ernst (R. Iowa), and Richard Blumenthal (D. Conn.).
“When HSI seizes and processes Iranian oil, 75% of seizure revenues are allocated to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund,” the letter said.
“It is unacceptable that a U.S. 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.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) subagency, Homeland Security Investigations Office (HSI) hasn’t seized Iranian oil in fiscal year 2022 despite having the funds available. The group of lawmakers say the “policy choice must be reversed” and that U.S. sanctions should be enforced “to the fullest extent of the law.”
The program, first enacted in 2019 during the Trump administration, is self funded through seizures and gives HSI the power to seize any oil and gas shipments out of Iran.
Originally the program intended to put a damper on Iranian petrochemical sales which are a key revenue source for Iran according to The Department of the Treasury. Meanwhile, Iranian oil exports have increased 35%.
The senators sent the letter to the White House mere hours before the US Navy made the announcement that the Iranian government seized an oil tanker, ‘Advantage Sweet’, chartered by Chevron, in the Gulf of Oman as it left Kuwait heading for Houston, Texas.
US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) released a statement on the recent incident.
“Advantage Sweet was seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy while transiting international waters in the Gulf of Oman. Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” the statement read. “In the past two years, Iran has unlawfully seized at least five commercial vessels sailing in the Middle East.”
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