WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked President Barack Obama's administration to weigh in on an appeal by the Iranian central bank over whether $1.75 billion must be paid to victims of the 1983 Lebanon U.S. Marine Corps barracks bombing.
In a brief order, the court said it wants to hear the administration's views on whether the nine justices should hear the appeal filed by Bank Markazi. If the court ultimately declines to take up the case, the money must be turned over to families of the victims.
The court's action comes at a delicate time for American-Iranian relations, with the United States and other world powers last week reaching a framework agreement intended to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.
The Iranian central bank is appealing a July 2014 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the money held by Citibank in New York should be handed over.
The money, currently held in a trust account, will go toward paying off a $2.65 billion U.S. court judgment that the victims' families won against Iran in 2007.
The families accused Iran of providing material support to Hezbollah, which carried out the attack that killed 241 U.S. servicemen.
The lawsuit was filed in 2010 after the U.S. Treasury Department uncovered the funds at Citibank, part of Citigroup Inc.