UN ready to settle US-Iran dispute over frozen assets

UN ready to settle US-Iran dispute over frozen assets
2 min read
30 April, 2016
The United Nations is ready to intervene to help resolve the dispute over Iran's frozen assets after the US Supreme Court ruled nearly $2 billion compensation for American 'terror' victims.
Kerry has assured Zarif that Iranian companies are no longer subject to US sanctions [AFP]
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is ready to help settle a dispute between Iran and the United States over Tehran's frozen assets, after the US Supreme Court ruled nearly $2 billion to be paid to American victims of "terror".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Ban Ki-moon to use his "good offices" to press the US to release all frozen assets in US banks.

In a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General, Zarif argued that the US court decision will have "catastrophic implications" and "will cause systematic erosion" of the principal of state immunity.

The UN responded by saying it will only intervene if both countries make the request to resolve the dispute.

"The secretary-general's good offices are always available should both parties to whatever tensions or issue request it," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The US Supreme Court ruled last week that the families of victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks, allegedly linked to Iran, can collect nearly $2 billion in frozen funds from Iran as compensation.

The court's ruling directly affects more than 1,300 relatives of victims, including families of the 241 US service members who died in the Beirut bombing.

Iran denies any links to the attacks.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the United States government responsible for this outrageous robbery, disguised under a court order, and is determined to take every lawful measure to restore the stolen property and the interest accrued to it from the date it was blocked by the United States," Zarif said in a letter.

"It is in fact the United States that must pay long overdue reparations to the Iranian people for its persistent hostile policies," Zarif added.

The letter comes amid Iranian complaints that they have been unable to access the international financial system despite sanctions relief outlined in a deal reached on Iran's nuclear programme.

US officials have said they are trying to address Iranian complaints.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Zarif last week, said the US would not stand in the way of foreign banks or firms doing business with Iranian companies that are no longer subject to America's sanctions.

Kerry said the administration was willing to further clarify what transactions are now permitted with Iran and urged foreign financial institutions to seek answers from US officials if they have questions.

Agencies contributed to this report