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Rosen, Cortez Masto break with Biden admin, call to refreeze Iranian assets

Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
Catherine Cortez Masto, left, (D-Nev.) and Congresswoman Jacky Rosen

Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) are calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to refreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets, joining a call made by many Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the wake of Hamas militants’ attack on Israel.

Last month, the administration unfroze $6 billion of Iranian oil assets, which had been held in a South Korean account, in exchange for the release of six American citizens. 

Rosen, a staunch defender of Israel, was one of the first Senate Democrats to call on the administration to freeze the assets, joining Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Tuesday. All three are running for re-election in 2024.

“In light of Hamas’s violent and horrific terrorist attack on Israel and Iran’s long-standing support for Hamas, we should freeze these assets,” Rosen said in a statement.

Cortez Masto joined the call to freeze the assets on Wednesday afternoon, telling The Nevada Independent in a statement that “we must continue to stand with Israel after this terrorist attack.”

After the Hamas attack, several Republicans highlighted the Iranian deal and accused the Biden administration of enabling Iran to fund Hamas’ terror operation, which thus far has killed 1,200 Israelis since Saturday. While Iran has been an ally of Hamas, U.S. national security officials say there is no evidence yet of Iranian support in ordering or planning the attacks. 

Still, 20 Senate Republicans sent a letter Monday calling on Biden to refreeze the assets, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who is running for president, called on the Senate to investigate the matter, including compelling Democrats to call in Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The Biden administration has defended last month’s exchange, saying the funds can only be used for humanitarian purposes. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken added that the funds remain unspent.

“These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today and this is not the time to spread disinformation,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday.

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