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Iran Threatens Legal Action Against US Over Diverted Funds

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at U.N. headquarters in New York City, April 19, 2016.

Iran has threatened legal action against the United States if $2 billion in frozen funds are diverted to compensate American families of people killed by Tehran-sponsored terrorism.

"We hold the U.S. government responsible for protecting our (frozen) funds," said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "If our funds are illegally accessed, we will surely claim damages from the American government at an appropriate time."

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 2012 law concerning the distribution of the funds. The court's ruling directly affects more than 1,300 relatives of victims, some who have been seeking compensation for more than 30 years.

Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told VOA's Persian Service that the court's ruling is consistent with international norms and conventions.

"The U.S. law is indeed at the edge of international practice," he said. "Courts have increasingly gotten involved in what were thought to be 'politically off-bounds' areas. This is not universally practiced, but the U.S. law is not unique."

The ruling awards damages to the relatives of 241 Marines killed in a 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut, 19 U.S. military troops killed in the 1996 Khobar Towers truck bombing in Saudi Arabia, and other attacks.

Iran, which is linked to the militant group Hezbollah, denies any involvement in the attacks and has said it had no role in the deadly events in the Lebanese capital.

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