“We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who insisted that the Lebanese terrorist organization “will not be affected” by the recently imposed sanctions.
“As long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it,” he added.
Lebanon’s central bank ordered all financial institutions to cease dealings with Hezbollah and come into compliance with U.S. sanctions last month, which led Nasrallah to accuse central bank governor Riad Salameh of “yielding” to American pressure. A bomb exploded outside a Beirut bank earlier this month, only hours after an Iranian news agency issued a threat against institutions enforcing the law.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an expert on the Middle East, pointed out the significance of Nasrallah’s declaration in Al Arabiyah:
It has been long known to political observers that the Islamic Republic played a key role in giving birth to the Lebanese Shiite militant group in 1982. For over three decades, Iran’s financial, military, intelligence, logistical, and advisory assistances to Hezbollah have been well known. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite force, the Quds force, transformed Hezbollah to be one of Iran’s most important and powerful regional and international proxies.
Nevertheless, what highlights the significance of Nasrallah’s speech is the fact that this is the first time in which he is announcing and publicly confirming that his group is receiving full monetary and arms support from the Iranian government.
Lebanese MP Saad Hariri criticized Hezbollah following Nasrallah’s acknowledgement, saying, “this admission shows Hezbollah follows Iran par excellence.” Hariri’s father Rafic, the former prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated in 2004. A United Nations investigation implicated Hezbollah in the killing.
Nasrallah’s admission was made in the course of a speech marking 40 days since the death of Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine. After Badreddine’s death, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif eulogized the explosives expert, who was implicated in the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 305 people.
Nasrallah’s speech seems to confirm an assurance given to him last August by Zarif that the nuclear deal presented “a historic opportunity” to confront Israel. Iran recently announced that its defense spending would increase by 90% in the coming year.
The comments also call into question assurances made by Secretary of State John Kerry last year that the U.S. would ensure that Iran could not arm Hezbollah, despite the lifting of nuclear sanctions against Tehran. “Our primary embargo is still in place,” Kerry said at a Senate hearing last year. “We are still sanctioning them. And, I might add, for those things that we may want to deal with because of their behavior, for instance, Hezbollah, there is a UN resolution, 1701, the prevents the transfer of any weapons to Hezbollah. That will continue and what we need to do is make sure that we’re enforcing it.”
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