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      Iran Claims U.S. Has Released Some Blocked Assets

      The Iranian government claims that the U.S. released $8 billion in blocked assets. State Department: Not true.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 11/26/2013, 4:46 AM

      Tehran
      Tehran
      AFP photo

      Less than 48 hours after a deal was signed between Iran and the West, the Iranian government claimed on Monday that the United States had already released some blocked assets.

      The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, a spokesperson for the Iranian government, as having confirmed the release of $8 billion of Iran’s blocked assets by the US administration.

      “The agreement will ease the anti-Iran sanctions, which will have significant impacts on the Iranian economy,” he said, according to the news agency.

      On Sunday, the former head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Alinaqi Khamoushi, had also announced that the U.S. released some of Iran’s frozen assets.

      One senior GOP aide on Capitol Hill was not pleased with the reports, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

      “It’s pretty clear the White House and State Department have been lying to the American people since the beginning of this process so it wouldn’t shock me to learn they are lying about how much sanctions relief they’re giving Iran now,” the aide was quoted as having said.

      The State Department, however, denied that sanctions have been altered since an interim deal with Iran was announced.

      “This report is false. Sanctions today are same as they were last week,” a senior State Department official was quoted by the Free Beacon as having said.

      “We will be forthcoming with guidance on how the technical terms of the relief package are worked out once all that is determined.”

      Earlier Monday, France said that some EU sanctions on Iran could be lifted in December as the nuclear deal reached over the weekend moves forward.

      Speaking on Europe 1 radio, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said EU foreign ministers would gather together in "a few weeks" to discuss lifting some sanctions as part of the deal – a move he said could take place "in December."

      Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval has expressed concern that Washington, in an attempt to justify the Western deal with Iran limiting Tehran's nuclear development program, would most likely “go easy” on Iran when it came to evaluating violations of the agreement.

      “What worries me is that the Obama administration may 'discount' violations of the agreement,” Shoval said on Monday. “The Geneva agreement is a very bad one, and may have even been worse were it not for the diplomatic steps taken by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in recent weeks.”

      On Sunday, a group of 15 senators said they would impose more sanctions on Iran despite the deal that was reached with it.

      “A nuclear weapons-capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security of the United States and its allies and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability," the group said. “We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible.”

      The group of 15 senators included Democrats Bob Cardin of Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, as well as Republicans Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Cornyn of Texas.