(New York, N.Y.)United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) Chairman Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace released the following statement today upon the news that Hamas terrorists have released some of the women and children that Hamas has been holding hostage:

“We stand with the families of hostages as they rejoice in the return of their loved ones. Yet this is not a day of celebration. We remain united with the families and victims of the October 7th attacks and demand the return of the approximately 190 other innocent civilians kidnapped by Hamas.

“Hamas must be fully held to account for the heinous barbarity of the October 7th massacre. We are relieved to see some hostages released from Hamas captivity. They have suffered unimaginable horrors at the hands of Hamas terrorists, which are armed and funded by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Qatar. But we remain concerned that the United States is succumbing to a foreign policy of hostage-taking by Iran and its proxies without deterring future hostage-taking attacks.  

“The $6 billion ransom deal, which secured the release of U.S. hostages in Iran in September, made an impression on the IRGC and its proxies and partners in Hamas and the Houthis. It incentivized their desire to secure hostages of their own as they realized it could give them leverage and a lot of money. In October, Hamas official Ali Baraka said of the U.S. agreement with Iran: “the U.S. conducts prisoner swaps. Only recently, it did one with Iran. Why wouldn’t it conduct a prisoner swap with us?” On Sunday, the Houthis hijacked an Israeli-linked cargo ship in a Red Sea shipping route and took 25 crew members hostage.

“But despite these escalatory actions by the IRGC and its terror network, the United States has not responded with adequate military action against them even though the IRGC and Hamas are responsible for the deaths of at least 30 Americans. The absence of such deterrence only emboldens the IRGC’s terror network to continue taking more hostages, ensuring that innocent civilians and their families will suffer. Washington has, unfortunately, signaled that hostage-taking pays. Hostage negotiations and ransom payments in the absence of militarily deterring future attacks is a failed policy that ensures that we will be suffering with other families after future terrorist attacks.

“The decision during the Obama administration to change U.S. policy to negotiate or pay for hostages while removing deterrence to discourage future hostage-taking and attacks on Americans has been a failure. Any such policy must include decisive and targeted U.S. military responses to change the calculus in Tehran. And the Biden administration should restore the Houthis to the list of U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations following the Houthis’ piracy and hostage-taking in international waters. The Biden administration’s removal of the Houthis’ terrorism designations in 2021 was a mistake.  

“We repeat: we are happy for the hostages and their families who will be released as part of the new agreement. None of us in the United States or Israel will rest until all the hostages, including the Americans, are released or liberated. But we must stop giving Iran-backed terrorists incentives to take more hostages. The IRGC itself must be held accountable by the U.S. military.”