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Ernst, Blumenthal Ramp Up Iranian Oil Sanctions Enforcement

Iran’s Illicit Oil Profits Fund Terrorist Proxies, Including Hamas

WASHINGTON – Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are creating a new avenue to cut off Iran’s funding for its terrorist proxies by equipping Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to enforce oil sanctions. Since 2021, Iran has increased its oil revenue by $80 billion, which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has used to fund Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.

For nearly two of the past three years, HSI wasn’t able to conduct a seizure of illicit Iranian oil shipments. However, when it is empowered, HSI has a record of success.

“Right now, we are witnessing the chaos Iran-backed Hamas is inflicting on Israel and the world, funded by the IRGC’s illicit oil sales. Instead of allowing Iran’s illegal actions to continue, I’m working to cut the red tape and equip HSI, and its proven record of enforcing sanctions, with the support and resources it needs to go after and stop Tehran. By removing this money from Iran’s hands, we can provide more support to victims of terrorism and pay down our national debt,” said Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“This bipartisan proposal will establish dedicated resources to stop illicit Iranian oil sales – helping to mitigate Iran’s malign influence and provide more support to victims of terror. Because profits from Iran’s illicit oil directly support Hamas and other terrorist proxies, efforts to crack down on these sales are critically important,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman August Pfluger (R-Texas) is introducing this bill in the House of Representatives.

“Iran is using its oil revenue to fund terror around the world—including Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israeli citizens. The United States cannot allow this behavior to go unpunished. I am proud to lead legislation with Senator Ernst and Senator Blumenthal to give HSI the tools they need to seize illicit Iranian oil and ensure this money can no longer be used to fund terrorism,” said Congressman August Pfluger.

Through the Iranian Sanctions Enforcement Act, Ernst and Blumenthal are providing HSI with the resources to build upon its proven record and enforce sanctions through this legislation, which:

  • Creates the Iran Sanctions Enforcement Fund that would equip HSI to enforce oil sanctions on Iran;
  • Authorizes a one-time investment of $150 million for this fund, which it is required to pay back within 10 years, adjusted for inflation;
    • Under the current law, 75% of funds from U.S. oil seizures go to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terror Fund,
    • Under the Iranian Sanctions Enforcement Act, the additional 25% would go to the enforcement fund, which would be capped at $500 million, and any additional dollar would help pay down the national debt; and
  • Ensures the authority given to HSI and other agencies to carry out sanctions enforcement cannot be undone by a future president by codifying into law the 2010 Executive Order that established the Export Enforcement Coordination Center.


In Senator Ernst’s recent trip to the Middle East, the Israeli government informed her that 93% of Hamas’s military budget comes from Iran.

In April, Ernst and Blumenthal led a bipartisan push demanding President Biden enforce much-needed sanctions on Iranian oil and gas shipments. They followed up with a bipartisan, bicameral letter to President Biden demanding a response to Iranian threats against Americans and American companies that prevented the transfer of seized oil from the Suez Rajan tanker off the coast of Texas for months. Following this advocacy, the illicit oil began being transferred.