published : 2023-10-12

Yellen Warns Iran: 'Nothing Off the Table' as US Considers New Sanctions

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says US not ruling out new sanctions against Iran

A photo of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaking at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Marrakesh, Morocco. Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the U.S. is not ruling out new sanctions against Iran if evidence emerges of their involvement in the unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

The Biden administration had released approximately $6 billion in Iranian oil sale revenue as part of a prisoner swap between Washington and Tehran in September. However, Republican lawmakers have heavily criticized this move, particularly given the recent eruption of violence in the Middle East, and have called on the White House to re-freeze the money.

Speaking at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Marrakesh, Morocco, Yellen stated that the money has not been spent and could still be re-frozen.

An image showing the White House and the Capitol building, symbolizing the political discussions and debates surrounding new sanctions against Iran. Taken with a Nikon D850.

Yellen emphasized that these funds, currently held in Qatar, were made available solely for humanitarian purposes, and have not been utilized. When asked about potential future actions, she stated, 'I wouldn’t take anything off the table in terms of future possible actions, but I certainly don’t want to get ahead of where we are on that.'

Addressing the belief that the U.S. has eased its sanctions on Iran in recent years, Yellen firmly denied this notion, saying, 'We have not in any way relaxed our sanctions on Iranian oil. We have sanctions on Hamas, on Hezbollah. This is something we have been constantly looking at, and using information that becomes available to tighten sanctions. We will continue to do that.'

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also commented on the situation, stating that there is no clear evidence linking Iran to the weekend attack by Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,200 people in Israel and left another 2,900 injured. However, Blinken acknowledged the long-standing relationship between Iran and Hamas.

A photograph capturing the devastation caused by the attacks on Israel, showcasing the impact of the conflict on innocent civilians. Taken with a Sony Alpha A7 III.

In response to the incursion, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip and is preparing for a possible ground invasion. Palestinian authorities report that the retaliatory attacks have resulted in at least 1,100 deaths and 5,000 injuries in Gaza.