The Iranian government said on Monday that it has now gained access to more than $100 billion of frozen overseas assets as part of the sanctions relief promised under the nuclear deal signed last summer with world powers.
“These assets have fully been released and we can use them,” Iranian government spokesperson Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht said, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported.
According to Press TV, much of the money that had come from international sales of Iranian oil had been piling up in banks in China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. Those countries have been holding the funds in escrow since sanctions were implemented in 2012.
Additionally, several Iranian banks were reconnected to the Belgian-based SWIFT financial transaction system that handles wire transfers between financial institutions.
Many Israeli officials, as well as Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, fear that Iran may use these funds to pay its terror proxies such as Hezbollah or the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which could in turn destabilize the Middle East. Furthermore, officials and analysts fear that Iran could also use the money to develop its ballistic missile program.