U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is ready to help settle a dispute between Iran and the U.S. on Tehran’s frozen assets, but only if both countries make that request, a U.N. spokesman said on Friday. In a letter sent the previous day, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had implored Ban to use his “good offices” to press the U.S. to release all of Tehran’s frozen assets in U.S. banks.
On April 20 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not usurp the authority of U.S. courts by passing a 2012 law requiring Iran’s frozen funds help satisfy a $2.65 billion judgement won by U.S. families against Iran in federal court in 2007. Zarif decried the ruling as “a travesty of justice” and an “outrageous robbery.”
The letter denounced what Mr. Zarif described as a history of United States arrogance toward Iran and other sovereign states through the use of American courts to seek collection of civil judgments from them. He called it a “dangerous practice of defying international law.
Zarif wrote that “The Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to take appropriate lawful action, including necessary and proportionate countermeasures, to restore and protect the rights of the Iranian people against such persistent unlawful conduct by the United States.” He even went so far as to write, “It is in fact the United States that must pay long overdue reparations to the Iranian people for its persistent hostile policies.”
A U.S. official made clear Washington saw no need for U.N. involvement, so Zarif’s plea won’t amount to anything.
Let’s be clear about one thing: the U.S. and Iran concluded an agreement on limiting the Iranian nuclear program, but they are by no means friends. Iran should be held accountable for the acts of terror it has sponsored around the world, and the U.S. is right to leverage its financial system to seize those frozen assets. Tehran will complain and make a fuss, but it isn’t holding any cards. If Iran uses this ruling as a flimsy excuse to call off the nuclear deal, it should expect to be crushed militarily.