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Gemunder Center Iran Task Force Chair Amb. Edelman Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee

The Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance will meet in open session to conduct a hearing on “Terror Financing Risks of America’s $1.7 Billion Cash Payments to Iran.” The witnesses will be: The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Former Attorney General of the United States; The Honorable Eric S. Edelman, Counselor, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Co-Chair, Iran Task Force at JINSA Gemunder Center, and Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Dr. Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director, Foreign Policy, and Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, The Brookings Institute.

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Heitkamp, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today on the dangers of the Administration's decision to transfer $1.7 billion in cash to Iran in January and February 2016. At the outset this morning I want to make clear that I am not a lawyer and I am not an expert of sanctions. However, I have followed Iran closely for more than a decade, both as Ambassador to Iran's neighbor Turkey, and then as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. I have continued working on the challenges that Iran presents to regional order since retiring from government in 2009, including as chair of a bipartisan Iran Task Force sponsored by the Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy, We have issued a range of detailed reports that among other issues raise serious concerns about providing Iran the wherewithal to continue destabilizing U.S. interests and our allies, but I want to stress that my views expressed here today are my own.

Normally, the risks of providing the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism with such funds, especially concurrent with Iran releasing illegally detained U.S. citizens, would dominate headlines and trigger uneasy memories of Americans taken hostage in Tehran. Unfortunately, these matters have been overshadowed a tumultuous presidential campaign that has drawn attention elsewhere, and has not been notable for any serious discussion of these issues by either Mr. Trump or Secretary Clinton. I therefore applaud the subcommittee's efforts to examine this matter and its implications for national security.

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