The exact amount that Iran would gain through the unfreezing of its foreign assets is a matter of some dispute. The Israeli ambassador has put the number at $150 billion; the Obama administration puts the number at $50 billion, since some of Iran’s assets “have already been obligated, including for projects with China,” the New York Times reports. Others say the number is higher; Foreign Policy estimated the number at “north of $120 billion,” with an additional $20 billion per year in oil revenues, making the deal worth $420 billion over 15 years.
If “north of $120 billion” is the best estimate, that would equal or surpass the total amount of U.S. aid to Israel since the country has been in existence, which the Congressional Research Service calculated to be $124.3 billion (in nominal terms) as of 2015. Even at the Obama administration’s low estimate, the cash freed to Iran by the deal would surpass total U.S. aid to Israel for the past 15 years, at minimum (roughly $3 billion per year).
It is true that the cash that Iran will access is “their own money,” as Secretary of State John Kerry has argued. Yet much of Israel’s aid is spent back in the U.S.–at least 75 percent of military aid, by law. In that sense, a large proportion of aid to Israel comes back as “our money” as well. Iran, of course, is not obligated to spend any of its foreign currency in the United States, and is certain to spend some of it on its terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East, as even the White House has conceded.
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