- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A new study estimates that Iran’s military spending could increase by $4.8 billion under the new nuclear deal, including a 50 percent budget increase for its terror-linked paramilitary force.

According to the study by the American Action Forum, the deal would generate roughly $140 billion in funds for Iran due to sanctions relief and unfreezing of assets. 

Iran reports spending about 3.4 percent of its budget on defense and about 65 percent of its defense budget on its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite force charged with defending Islamic law that actively supports terrorist organizations across the Middle East.

Should its spending remain the same, the additional funds provided by the nuclear deal would mean an additional $3.1 billion for the IRGC, according to the study. 

U.S. officials, including the under secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence have estimated Iran would have access to $100 billion of previously frozen assets under the new deal. 

Secretary of State John Kerry later walked back that number, saying it was closer to about $50 billion because half of Iran’s frozen assets were already obligated to various projects. 

But President Obama has used a much larger figure, citing Iran’s $150 billion in offshore assets in an interview with The Atlantic.

Although a consensus has not been formed around a single number, the range falls somewhere between $100 to $150 billion in assets. 

According to studies by the United States Institute of Peace and the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, Iran’s defense budget is between $12 and $14 billion. 

However, it is unlikely that Iran accurately reports its spending, meaning the spending estimates for Iran’s military forces are likely minimums rather than ceilings. 

“Nothing in the deal would prevent Iran from spending more than that to fund their military or terrorist organizations and authoritarian regimes throughout the Middle East,” warned study author, Rachel Hoff, director of Defense Analysis at the American Action Forum. 

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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