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Homeland chairman: Lifting sanctions ‘bankrolls’ terrorism

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By Mike Lillis – 01/17/16 02:06 PM EST

The Republican head of the House Homeland Security Committee is warning that the Obama administration’s decision to lift sanctions as part of the Iran nuclear deal will bankroll terrorism at the expense of the United States and its allies.

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) has long hammered the nuclear deal as a misguided agreement with untrustworthy adversaries –– a universal sentiment of congressional Republicans. McCaul amplified those concerns on Sunday following the administration’s announcement that it has lifted financial penalties on Iran surrounding its nuclear program.

“I have said from the start that the Iran deal was little more than a negotiation with terrorists. And now with its implementation, we can see clearly one of the dangers it will bring to the free world,” McCaul said in a statement. “The administration is unfreezing billions of dollars for the Iranian government, which will enhance its bankrolling of terrorism, perpetuate its repression, and fuel its efforts to oppose America and our allies in the region and beyond.”

President Obama on Sunday defended the move to lift sanctions, saying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal has been “verified,” leading to the need for the United States to make good on its part of the bargain.

“Now that Iran’s actions have been verified, it can begin to receive relief from certain nuclear sanctions and gain access to its own money that had been frozen,” Obama said from the White House.

In the same breath, however, Obama announced that he’s installing new sanctions on Iran in response to a pair of ballistic missile tests conducted by Tehran late last year in defiance of United Nation’s resolutions. The dual moves highlight the sharp distinction the administration is making between Iran’s nuclear program and other actions undertaken by Tehran.

“We remain steadfast in opposing Iran’s destabilizing behavior elsewhere, including its threats against Israel and our Gulf partners, and its support for violent proxies in places like Syria and Yemen,” Obama said. “We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support of terrorism, and for its ballistic missile program. And we will continue to enforce these sanctions, vigorously.”

The ballistic missile testing “was a violation of its international obligations,” Obama added. “And as a result, the United States is imposing sanctions on individuals and companies working to advance Iran’s ballistic missile program. And we are going to remain vigilant about it.”