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Story highlights

Kerry said that, after settling debts, Iran would receive around $55 billion

He conceded some of that could go to groups considered terrorists

Davos, Switzerland CNN —  

Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged to CNBC Thursday that some of the money Iran received in sanctions relief would go to groups considered terrorists.

When asked about whether some the $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran would go to terrorist groups, Kerry reiterated that, after settling debts, Iran would receive closer to $55 billion. He conceded some of that could go to groups considered terrorists, saying there was nothing the U.S. could do to prevent that.

“I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists,” he said in the interview in Davos, referring to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. “You know, to some degree, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every component of that can be prevented.”

READ: Obama and Kerry legacies hang in the balance on Iran

But he added that “right now, we are not seeing the early delivery of funds going to that kind of endeavor at this point in time.”

Earlier Thursday, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Kerry defended the U.S. use of sanctions against Iran following charges by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the recent sanctions were illegal and that some in the U.S. were “addicted” to sanctions.

“We have made it very clear that we use sanctions when we think they are appropriate in order to counter behavior that we believe has broken the law or has challenged the United Nations Security Council or threatened the United States, and we stand by our sanctions,” Kerry told reporters. “We think they have been used judiciously and effectively and we are looking to move on now to put to test the willingness of Iran and other countries in the region to try to reduce tensions and move in a different direction.”

He also said that there are such great demands on the Iranian government to develop the country that “there is no way they can succeed in what they want to do if they are very busy funding a lot of terrorism.”

He continued, “If we catch them funding terrorism, they are going to have a problem with the United States Congress and other people, obviously.”

He added, “We are confident that this will not result in an increase somehow in the threat to any partner or any friend in the region.”