Iran may seem happy with the return to normal trade relations with the west, but it is in fact facing the risk of being forced to pay compensation of up to $46 billion due to the issuing of US court rulings against the backdrop if its support of terrorism.
Despite the existence of the principle of “diplomatic immunity” that makes prosecuting states judicially in the courts of other countries a troublesome matter, there is an exception to this principle. American courts have held Iran responsible for sponsoring a large number of terrorist operations including its role in taking Americans hostage in Lebanon in the 1980s. Many Americans who have been granted court rulings in their favour are trying to obtain compensation and are driven by Congress’ decision to deny the application of “diplomatic immunity” claims made by governments included on a US State Department special list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
American lawyers are hoping to find ways of collecting large sums of compensation as soon as Iran resumes more active trade relations with the west. One of the proposed ways is the confiscation of funds that pass through American banks. One of the cases brought before the Supreme Court relates to a sum of $1.75 billion that was frozen during a transfer to the Central Bank of Iran.
Despite the freezing of tens of millions of dollars belonging to the Iranian government in American banks, the biggest sum obtained came from an account disputed over by Iran and the US government. Lawyers refer to it as “frozen Iranian funds” and opponents say that this dispute will be settled either by returning the sum to Iran (if Iran won the dispute) or returning the sum to the US treasury (if America won the dispute).