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HomeMiddle EastIran Threatens Lawsuit in Hague Court Over U.S. Ruling on $2 Billion

Iran Threatens Lawsuit in Hague Court Over U.S. Ruling on $2 Billion

By RICK GLADSTONE
April 25, 2016

Iran said on Monday that it would seek to sue the United States at the International Court of Justice at The Hague to prevent the distribution of nearly $2 billion in impounded assets from Iran’s central bank to compensate American victims of overseas attacks.

Distribution of the impounded assets, which the United States Supreme Court validated in a decision last week, has enraged the Iranians and threatened to damage the improvement in relations created by the deal reached last July on Iran’s nuclear activities.

The Supreme Court decision affected more than 1,000 Americans — survivors of, and relatives of people killed in, attacks that the American authorities have attributed to Iranian operatives.

The attacks include the 1983 truck bombing of a Marine base in Beirut and a truck bombing in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in 1996.

The Iranians have denied responsibility for these attacks and have accused the United States of using them as an excuse to steal their money through the Supreme Court decision.

“We hold the U.S. administration responsible for preservation of Iranian funds, and if they are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the I.C.J. for reparation,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters on Monday in Tehran. He was referring to the International Court of Justice.

But lawyers said it was unclear whether the court’s jurisdiction would be accepted in such a case.

The United States withdrew its general acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction after losing a landmark case to Nicaragua in 1986 over American intervention in that country.

Lawyers said the court might be able to hear some disputes between Iran and the United States because of their 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, which provided for the court to have jurisdiction.

Others said Iran might have already factored in a negative outcome over the Supreme Court ruling and would continue to protest, but almost certainly would not let the ruling sabotage the far broader nuclear deal, which unfroze billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian money in other countries and terminated or eased a range of economic sanctions.

“The ruling will further chill Iran-U.S. relations, but Tehran still wins a ton from the deal and isn’t about to split,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a Washington-based political risk consulting firm.