In a meeting on Tuesday, Director General for the Americas at Iran’s Foreign Ministry Mohammad Keshavarz-Zadeh handed over two official notes to the Swiss envoy, who represents the US interests in Tehran, in protest at the ruling that almost two billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets must be paid to the families of victims of a 1983 bombing in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
On April 20, the court ruled that aboutUSD 2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be turned over to American families of people killed in the 1983 bombing of a US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran. The Islamic Republic has denied any role in the attack.
The money confiscated under the US court ruling belongs to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). The assets have been blocked under US sanctions.
Keshavarz-Zadeh said the Supreme Court’s decision was “a clear and blatant violation of mutual contractual obligations” and the US international legal obligations as well as the “immunity of jurisdiction” for properties and assets of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that the US court ruling is “highway robbery” and emphasized that Tehran would retrieve the sum anyway.
“It is a theft. Huge theft. It is highway robbery. And believe you me, we will get it back,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told The New Yorker in an interview.
Keshavarz-Zadeh also reprimanded a local New York court’s verdict that groundlessly accused Iran or Iranian nationals of playing a role in the September 11, 2001 attacks without presenting any proof.
He said such claims are “ridiculous” and go contrary to international norms on the jurisdictional immunity of governments.
In March, Iran was ordered by a US judge to pay more than $10.5 billion in damages to families of people killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and to a group of insurers.
US District Judge George Daniels in New York issued the judgment, claiming that Iran has failed to defend itself against allegations of involvement in the attacks.
The court ruling is based on the 9/11 Commission Report which stated that some attackers moved through Iran and did not have their passports stamped.
The verdict comes as none of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Iranian citizens. Fifteen were from Saudi Arabia, while two from the United Arab Emirates and one each from Egypt and Lebanon.
The Swiss envoy said he would immediately notify the US Department of State and report back the results to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.