UN open to help in Iran-US dispute over assets

Iran requested UN help in convincing the United States to stop what Tehran has described as violations of state immunity

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

The United Nations on Friday suggested it would be willing to assist in a dispute between Tehran and Washington after Iran requested UN help in convincing the United States to stop what the Islamic Republic has described as violations of state immunity.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday to ask him to intervene with his “good offices” after the top US court ruled that $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be paid to American victims of attacks blamed on Tehran.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed receipt of Zarif’s letter.

“We’ll obviously take a look at it,” he told reporters. “As a matter of principle ... the Secretary-General’s good offices are always available should both parties to whatever tensions or issue request it.”

It was not immediately clear whether Washington would accept the idea of mediation by the UN chief.

“We’re aware of the letter,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “To the extent that this letter was prompted by the recent Supreme Court decision in the Bank Markazi v. Peterson case, we believe the US laws and the application of those laws by the courts ... comport with international law.”

Zarif’s appeal comes amid increasing Iranian frustration at what Tehran has said is the failure of the United States to keep its promises regarding sanctions relief agreed under an historic nuclear deal struck last year by Iran and six world powers.

In the letter, released by the Iranian UN mission, Zarif asked Ban to help secure the release of frozen Iranian assets in U.S. banks and persuade Washington to stop interfering with Iran’s international commercial and financial transactions.

The US Supreme Court found that the US Congress did not usurp the authority of American courts by passing a 2012 law stating that Iran’s frozen funds should go toward satisfying a $2.65 billion judgment won by the US families against Iran in US federal court in 2007.

Last week Zarif met several times with US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York to discuss Iranian problems accessing international financial markets. Kerry said Washington was not preventing anyone from doing legitimate business with Iran.

Tehran has called on the United States to do more to remove obstacles to the financial sector so that businesses feel comfortable investing in Iran without fear of penalties.

Top Content Trending