A senior White House official on Wednesday defended the Biden administration’s response to Iran, while admitting Tehran’s ‘broad complicity’ in Hamas’ attack on Israel.
John Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, also said there was no intelligence to date suggesting Iran was directly linked to Saturday’s attack.
‘Nobody has turned a blind eye to Iranian destabilizing behavior,’ Kirby said. ‘We’re obviously recognize that there’s broad complicity here by the Iranians, I mean, because of the longstanding support to Hamas. Hamas wouldn’t have been able to function at all had it not been for propping up by the Iranian regime. But we haven’t seen any specific evidence that tells us they were wittingly involved in the planning or involved in the resourcing and the training that went into this very complex set of attacks over the weekend.’
Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich pressed Kirby on how the Biden administration would define a ‘direct link’ between the Hamas attack on Israel and Iran. In response, Kirby noted what White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday.
‘We haven’t seen anything that tells us they knew specifically date time, method that they were that they were witting to this it. We haven’t seen anything that tells us they specifically cut checks to support this set of attacks or that they were involved in the training and that obviously this required quite a bit of training by these terrorists or that they were involved in any directing of the operation,’ Kirby said Wednesday. ‘We’re not one and done here, either. We’re going to continue to look at the intelligence stream and see if it leads us to a different conclusion. All I can do is be honest with you about the conclusions we’re coming to today, and we just haven’t seen that.’
‘Is it the position of the administration that at this stage Iran was not involved?’ Heinrich asked. ‘I guess my question is, how can we know this was in the planning for over a year and within a few short days say that Iran was not behind it?’
‘Because that’s what we think,’ Kirby responded. ‘Again, we have not seen any evidence, specific evidence that Iran was directly involved with these specific sets of attacks.’
‘Look, we’re going to keep looking at it. The book is not closed on it. We’re going to keep looking at that. But that’s just where we are right now,’ he added.
This comes as former President Donald Trump and others have criticized the Biden administration’s $6 billion prisoner swap deal with Iran and called for the U.S. to rescind those funds.
At the White House press briefing, Kirby earlier reiterated to reporters that Iran has been ‘supporting Hamas and Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.’
‘Hamas is one of the most highly sanctioned terrorist networks on the planet, largely because of what we’ve been doing here in the United States to — to target them,’ he said.
Since the start of the Biden administration, Kirby said the U.S. sanctioned some 400 plus entities with more than 40 different sets of sanction regimes, including 30 the past year alone. He also stressed the Biden administration has increased U.S. military presence in the Gulf region because of attacks on maritime shipping.
‘We have added additional sanctions because of their support to Russia and the fact that they’re still providing drones and technology to Mr. Putin so he can kill innocent Ukrainians. And now we’ve added our military capability. We’ve added to it from a naval perspective in the Eastern [Mediterranean],’ Kirby said.