The State Department confirmed on Wednesday that Iran has been shipping crude oil to Syria for the past several months, behavior that some experts say is in direct violation of the interim nuclear accord signed last year with the Obama administration.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein, during remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed rumors that Iran is now delivering oil to the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been helped financially and militarily by the regime in Tehran.
"It is true that over the last few months Iran has begun to direct shipments of crude oil to Syria for the first time," Hochstein told lawmakers. "They were done every once in a while before that. That is because Syria's ability to get crude oil on the market and from traders has vanished. And as a result Iran has had to step in."
"The administration's argument that the Iranian delivery of crude oil to Syria should not be counted as a violation of the JPOA or U.S. sanctions laws is the triumph of bureaucratic legalese over strategic common sense," Mark Dubowitz, the Foundation for Defense of Democracy's executive director, said in a statement provided to the Washington Free Beacon.
"Providing free barrels to Assad's killing machine is of clear financial and strategic benefit to Iran, which, thanks to the administration's flexibility in permitting higher crude sales, can now fuel its ally in Damascus without having to spend its cold, hard cash," Dubowitz said.