The proceeds will “go to a far better use than either regime, Iran or Venezuela, could have envisioned because it will provide relief for victims of terrorism, rather than the perpetrators,” said Elliott Abrams, the State Department special representative for Iran and Venezuela.
The unsealing of the documents came less than a week before the American presidential election. But Michael Sherwin, acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters the timing was “divorced from politics.”
“These actions started last summer, and these are fluid, organic situations,” he said.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 landmark Iran nuclear accord in 2018. Former Vice President Joe Biden has said that if Iran returned to compliance under the deal, he would rejoin the pact as a starting point for negotiations if elected president.
Ahead of the election, the Trump administration has unveiled a series of punitive measures against Iran that analysts say could undermine a return to the deal. On Thursday, the State and Treasury Departments blacklisted 11 entities and individuals based in Iran, China and Singapore for selling and purchasing Iranian petrochemicals.
The United States on Monday also imposed sweeping counterterrorism sanctions aimed at disrupting Iran’s oil sector, which officials say is a major source of revenue for the Tehran’s military activities in the Middle East. The move, which targeted the Oil Ministry, the National Iranian Oil Co. and top oil officials, follows US sanctions announced earlier this month on 18 Iranian banks.
On Monday, the spokesman for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, Alireza Miryousefi, condemned the sanctions as further evidence of US “hostility towards the Iranian people.”