22:07 GMT26 October 2020
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    Congressional Republicans in the United States have been fiercely opposed to the Iran nuclear deal. With the US prepared to roll back sanctions against Tehran, some of these lawmakers have taken a last ditch effort to financially punish the Iranian government, introducing legislation to use Iranian assets to pay the victims of terrorist attacks.

    Last month, Senate Republicans introduced a bill which would prevent the Obama administration from carrying through with the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

    That bill failed miserably.

    But that doesn’t mean Republicans are giving up. This week, Pennsylvania Representative Pat Meehan will sponsor the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act.

    "There are some $43.5 billion in judgements which have been rendered under American law for victims of acts of Iranian terror," Meehan told reporters.

    "Despite this, not one cent has been paid by Iran. This is an opportunity to change that dynamic."

    If passed, the legislation would allow the US government to freeze any Iranian assets in order to pay individuals who have been awarded Iranian money from US courts.

    Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner gave his support to the bill, saying it would be unfair to “provide Iran with about $100 billion of their assets locked up in Western banks, without first paying the victims of Iranian terrorism.”

    The bill has its share of critics, not least of whom is Sarah Shourd.

    Shourd was one of the three American hikers captured by Iranian border guards in 2009. After being detained on suspicion of espionage, she was released.

    Yet even Shourd, who could bear an understandable grudge against the Iranian government, has called the legislation absurd.

    "Such an unrealistic restriction would not lead to release for the hostages or justice for victims of terrorism," she wrote for Roll Call.

    "Threatening the president’s ability to provide sanctions relief threatens the deal itself."

    According to a statement from the US Office of Management and Budget, President Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it came across his desk.

    Agreed to in July, the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations, including Russia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, is aimed at gradually lifting the international sanctions placed on Tehran. This will allow the Iranian government to develop nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes.


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    Iran nuclear deal, Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, US House of Representatives, US Senate, P5+1, Sarah Shourd, John Boehner, Pat Meehan, Iran, US
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