Iran accuses US Supreme court of violating law
Iran turned to the United Nations to accuse the US Supreme Court of violating international law by ruling that Iran was financially responsible for compensating Lebanon terror victims. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) headed by Iran released a communique calling the practice by US court a violation of America's international and treaty obligations. It called on the US "to respect the principle of state immunity."
1983 Beirut bombings
On 23 Oct, 1983, 241 US military personnel were killed when a suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The bombing was traced to Hezbollah, a militant group that originated in Lebanon. Iranian and Syrian involvement was also suspected.
Background - Past judgements
In 2003, a US federal judge ruled that the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out the 1983 Beirut attack at the direction of the Iranian government. The ruling allowed families of the terror victims to sue Iran. Over following years, the US federal courts repeatedly ruled in favor of the terror victims - in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 judgements.
The US Congress repeatedly changed the legislation in the past 20 years to allow victims to sue over state-sponsored terrorism. The law passed in 2012 stated that the Iran's central bank's assets within the US were to be turned over to the families of the victims.
Iran's response so far
Iran refused to comply with past judgments, which led lawyers to search for Iranian assets held in the United States. In the latest litigation, Bank Markazi, Iran's central bank, challenged a 2014 ruling by the US court that said the Iranian assets should be turned over to the families. The bank argued that Congress overstepped its jurisdiction when it passed the 2012 legislation.
US court orders Iran to compensate terror victims
The US Supreme Court ruled that Iran must pay nearly $2 billion in compensation to terror victims. This includes over 1300 people who are among the relatives of 241 Marines who died in 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut, as well as victims of other attacks that courts have linked to Tehran (such as the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia).
Court rules Congress well within its powers
The US Supreme Court ruled that Congress had acted within its powers to pass the 2012 legislation corresponding to terror victims' compensation. The 2012 law, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution." The Obama administration, as well as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, supported compensation for families.
Iran blasts court ruling, threatens to sue US
Iran blasted the US Court's ruling, calling it an act of robbery. Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said, "We hold the US administration responsible for preservation of Iranian funds, and if they are plundered, we will lodge complaint with the International Court of Justice for reparation." Escalating the issue, Zarif wrote to the UN, where he called the court proceedings 'fake and phony'.