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Speaking at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took aim at the U.S. nuclear weapons deal with Iran last year.
"To defeat Islamic extremist terrorists, we must put them on defense. If they are at war against us, which they have declared, we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them," Giuliani said.
"This includes undoing one of the worst deals America ever made - Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran that will eventually let them become a nuclear power and it’s putting billions of dollars back into a country that’s the world’s largest supporter of terrorism. We are actually giving them the money to fund the terrorists that are killing us and our allies. We are giving them the money. Are we crazy? Donald Trump will make sure any agreement with Iran meets the original goals of the U.N. and our allies - a non-nuclear Iran."
Republicans in Congress have opposed the nuclear deal. They tried to block it through a vote in the Senate, but the effort failed by two votes. Since then it’s been a talking point on the campaign trail both in national and statewide races.
Is Giuliani right about the details of the Iran nuclear deal?
‘Billions of dollars’ to Iran
A similar claim has been made before about the money Iran will receive under the deal.
In March, Donald Trump said in Florida that Iran would be given $150 billion ‘for nothing’ as part of the deal. As PolitiFact has reported previously, the money already belongs to Iran and the final amount is expected to be closer to $50 billion.
Giuliani did not specify an amount that Iran will receive. PolitiFact previously rated Donald Trump’s claim as False.
Money to Iran
The countries involved are not collectively writing a check to Iran. According to Richard Nephew from Columbia University, the money is revenue from oil and gas sales that foreign banks are forced to hold.
With the sanctions lifted, Iran was expected to end up with about $50 billion after financial obligations and other matters, according to experts we spoke to and testimony from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Iran would not receive the money without U.S. permission. If the U.S. had not cut a deal with Iran, the funds would still be frozen under the sanctions. So while no taxpayer money goes to Iran, the U.S. allowed Iran to receive billions of dollars.
It’s unclear how much money has been released to Iran. The sanctions were lifted when the deal was implemented earlier this year, but only the Iranian Central Bank knows exactly how much is available to the country.
Sponsor of terrorism
More than 30 years ago the U.S. State Department designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. The country remains on that list.
Each year the State Department releases reports on international terrorism for Congress and the public. This year’s report was released in June.
In a briefing with reporters to discuss the report, the department’s acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell called Iran the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, terrorist groups in Gaza, and groups in Iraq and the Middle East.
Experts we spoke to are mixed on whether the deal means Iran has increased terror funding. Matthew Kroenig from Georgetown University suggests that could happen. No experts had evidence that Iran's funding of terror groups had grown.
At the Republican National Convention, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the United States is giving Iran billions of dollars under the Iran nuclear deal and that the money is being used to fund terrorists. He also called Iran the world’s largest supporter of terrorism.
Giuliani is right that Iran ranks as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The billions of dollars released to Iran was already Iran’s money, but could only be released with U.S. consent. On the last part of Giuiani's claim, experts have said it’s difficult to know whether Iran has used any of the money to sponsor terrorist groups.
We rate this claim as Half True.
Email conversation with Matthew Kroenig, Associate Professor at Georgetown University
Email conversation with Steven Leibo, Professor at The Sage Colleges
Email conversation with James Walsh, expert on international security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Email conversation with Peter Feaver, Professor at Duke University
Email conversation with Richard Nephew from Columbia University
Email conversation with Aaron Arnold from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University
"Giuliani Mum On Whether He Would Serve In Trump Admin", The Daily Caller, July 20, 2016, Accessed July 22, 2016
"House rejects Obama’s Iran deal", The Hill, September 11, 2015, Accessed July 22, 2016
Rudy Giuliani’s entire Republican convention speech, CNN, July 18, 2016
PolitiFact: No, Donald Trump, we are not giving Iran $150 billion for 'nothing', March 17, 2016, Accessed July 21, 2016
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, C-SPAN, July 23, 2015, Accessed July 20, 2016
"International sanctions against Iran lifted", Washington Post, January 16, 2016, Accessed July 21, 2016
Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 Briefing, U.S. State Department, June 2, 2016, Accessed July 21, 2016
Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, U.S. State Department, Accessed July 21, 2016
"Iran Complies With Nuclear Deal; Sanctions Are Lifted", New York Times, January 16, 2016, Accessed July 20, 2016
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