FLASHBACK: Bob Casey Said the Iran Deal Would ‘Enhance’ Israeli Security. Critics Say It Funded Tehran’s Drone Strike.

By Chuck Ross
Washington Free Beacon
April 18, 2024

When Sen. Bob Casey cast a deciding vote for the Iran nuclear deal, the Pennsylvania Democrat insisted it would “enhance” Israeli and American national security. Instead, the Obama-era agreement unlocked billions of dollars that helped Tehran fund its “unprecedented” drone attack against Israel last week.

In 2015, Casey and fellow Democrat Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) were on the fence about whether to support the deal, which relaxed sanctions against Iran. Supporters claimed loosening sanctions would deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

But critics said the deal would free up money for Iran to use in other weapons programs and fund terrorist proxies including Hamas and Hezbollah. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the plan a “colossal mistake” that would provide a “cash bonanza” for Tehran.

Casey ultimately sided with the Obama-Biden administration in supporting the deal and touted it as a boon for American and Israeli national security. “I believe the agreement enhances our national security and also enhances the security of Israel and the region,” Casey told PBS on Sept. 1, 2015.

Now, the nuclear deal—and Casey’s vote—is coming under fresh scrutiny in light of Iran’s launch of 300 drones against Israel. Tehran launched the attack in retaliation for Israel’s bombing of its embassy in Damascus, which killed senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi. The White House condemned Iran’s “unprecedented air attack” and sanctioned the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iranian defense ministry, and its missile and drone program.

While Casey said the United States “must continue to stand with Israel,” his political opponents have linked his deciding vote on the Iran deal to the current turmoil.

“Bob Casey was the deciding vote for the Iran Deal in 2015—unlocking billions for Tehran to use to foment terrorism around the world,” said Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick. “The result? Over the weekend, Iran launched over 300 missiles and drones against Israel.”

While Casey still supports the Iran deal, he has acknowledged that Tehran could use money transfers from the United States to fund its military programs and terrorist proxies. After Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Casey and several other swing-state Democrats urged President Joe Biden to maintain a freeze on $6 billion in sanctioned funds that were to be released as part of a ransom payment to free American prisoners.

“These funds should remain frozen until we can determine whether Iran played a role in the attack and what the appropriate U.S. response should be,” Casey said.

Iranian leaders have signaled they will use previously sanctioned funds however it wishes.

“This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi said in September of the $6 billion ransom payment.

It’s not the first time Casey has given mixed messages about Iran.

In 2021, Casey praised Biden’s decision to rescind the Trump administration’s “hasty” designation of the Iran-backed Houthi militia as a foreign terrorist group.

Casey flip-flopped on the Houthis last year after the group, using Iran-made missiles and drones, launched attacks on Western military and commercial ships in the Red Sea. A Casey spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon the reinstatement of the terrorist designation was “appropriate,” given the Houthis “have significantly escalated their attacks against American interests.”