US seizure of Iranian assets may open old wounds

TEHRAN, Iran — More than a month after the US Supreme Court’s ruling that some $2 billion in offshore Iranian assets can be used to compensate families of victims of the 1983 bombing of the US Marines headquarters in Beirut, some Iranian officials are urging their government to take action by referring the case to the International Court of Justice.

Tehran has always denied any involvement in the 1983 bombing. As such, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, infuriated Iranian officials described the move as daylight robbery and piracy. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the ruling amounts to theft, noting that Iran does not recognize verdicts against it handed down by courts in other states. Moreover, in a letter to the UN secretary-general, Zarif wrote that such rulings violate the principle of state immunity and asked that his letter be circulated among the UN General Assembly.

Controversy quickly arose in Tehran over responsibility for the purchase of the bonds that have been confiscated by the United States. Some have shifted the blame to the previous government under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose office vehemently denies the accusation.
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This article was written by for Al-Monitor on May 26, 2016. Fereshteh Sadeghi is an Iranian journalist and social media activist based in Tehran, where she has written for Panjereh and other Iranian publications. She holds a master’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Tehran.