House Passes Bill to Stop Sanctions Relief Until Iran Pays Damages to U.S. Terror Victims

Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., speaks about his Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act on the House floor, alongside a photo of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, killed by Iranian-sponsored terrorists during a 1985 hijacking. (Image: YouTube)
Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., speaks about his Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act on the House floor, alongside a photo of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, killed by Iranian-sponsored terrorists during a 1985 hijacking. (Image: YouTube)

In the face of a White House veto threat, the House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday preventing President Obama from lifting any sanctions on Iran until Tehran pays damages, already ordered by U.S. courts, to American victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

“Until they pay these victims what they’re owed, let’s say no to Iran – not one cent,” Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) said before the House passed his Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act by a 251-173 vote.

“We’re talking about Iranian-backed assassinations and bombings and attacks across the time zones – from Paris to Jerusalem to New York to Beirut to East Africa to Buenos Aires,” he said. “I say – not one cent.”

“These victims are United States citizens – they’re wives, brothers and sisters, children who hail from all across the nation,” Meehan added. “And they were killed in hijackings and suicide attacks and bombings – of buses and planes and buildings and embassies‎ and shopping malls and pizza parlors.”

Iran owes billions of dollars in court-awarded damages to the American victims of attacks ranging from the bombings of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, to suicide bombings in Israel and the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem during a 1985 hijacking.

Damages worth more than $46 billion have been awarded, of which – according to the Congressional Research Service – some $43.5 billion remain unpaid, including $9 billion relating to the Marine Barracks bombing. The bill passed Thursday applies to court judgments delivered between March 2000 and May 2015.

Under the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is due receive around $100 billion as a result of sanctions relief in return for implementing steps which the administration says will prevent it from development a nuclear weapons capability.

The administration intentionally excluded non-nuclear issues – including terror-sponsorship and the fate of Americans imprisoned in Iran – from the JCPOA negotiations.

“The Obama administration during its negotiations with Iran did not seek for Iran to compensate the families of those whose lives were taken by Iranian terrorism despite these U.S. court judgments,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.).

“Iran will soon obtain $100 billion, approximately, in unfrozen assets, as well as immeasurable economic and financial benefits by escaping the sanctions regime and reintegrating in the global economy,” he said.

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SOURCE: Patrick Goodenough 
CNS News