The Trump administration plans to use proceeds from the sale of fuel confiscated from Iranian tankers to benefit victims of terrorism, officials announced Thursday.
The U.S. military in August seized 1.1 million barrels of fuel from four Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela. The fuel has since been sold, and officials say the proceeds will go to a special fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
The money "will now go to a far better use than either regime, Iran or Venezuela, could have envisioned because it will provide relief for victims of terrorism rather than the perpetrators of such acts," said Elliott Abrams, the State Department's special representative for Iran and Venezuela.
“So that is both poetic and tangible justice,” he added.
The U.S. estimates that it will be able to recoup some $40 million from the sale, said Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
A separate forfeiture complaint from the Justice Department centers on Iranian missiles that were seized from flagless vessels in November and February. Officials say the cargo was intended for militant groups in Yemen.
In addition to the forfeiture complaints, the administration also announced sanctions against multiple petroleum companies in Iran.
The administration has had a contentious relationship with Iran, announcing last month that it had restored all United Nations sanctions that had been eased under the 2015 nuclear deal. Last week, officials accused Iran of election interference through the distribution of threatening emails to Democratic voters in multiple states.
“With these seizure actions, we are expanding our toolbox to combat Iran’s bad behavior,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department's top national security official.