More than 1,000 U.S. military veterans and family members of those killed or wounded in attacks by Iran and its proxies are calling on President Joe Biden to compensate the victims of Iranian attacks before releasing frozen funds as part of nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
In a letter to the president obtained by VOA News, veterans and military family members wrote late last week that while they share Biden’s “view that Iran must never be allowed to develop and acquire nuclear weapons,” they feel that releasing frozen funds should not be an option until all of the estimated $60 billion of outstanding terrorism judgments against Iran and its proxies are “fully satisfied.”
“In our view, Iran’s frozen funds should go first to the regime’s American victims before a single dollar goes to the regime itself,” they wrote.
The letter asks Biden to meet with some of those “directly affected by this issue” and support their “efforts to hold Iran responsible for the deaths and maiming of thousands of Americans.”
U.S. officials have said Iran-backed militias killed hundreds of U.S. troops in the Iraq war, a claim Iran has denied.
Iran claimed responsibility for a 2020 attack on an Iraqi base hosting international forces that wounded more than 100 American troops, and Iran-backed militias continue to target U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria with rockets and armed drones.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday the administration is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and believes diplomacy is the best way to do that, but “time is running short.”
U.S. and European powers are currently in talks with Iran in Vienna over reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran, blocking Tehran’s access to assets abroad.
Iran has asked the U.S. to unblock billions of dollars frozen by U.S. sanctions as a sign of goodwill. Last week, the U.S. Treasury allowed South Korea to send at least $63 million in overdue payments to an Iranian company, releasing a small portion of the Iranian assets frozen there by the sanctions.
The move appeared to be a step forward in nuclear negotiations in Vienna to rebuild trust between Iran and world powers and restore the 2015 deal.
South Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun had visited the Austrian capital to meet with the U.S. special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, earlier this month.