U.S. veterans and their families on Thursday called on the Biden administration not to release frozen funds to Iran as part of nuclear talks until U.S. victims of terror attacks by the Tehran regime or its proxies are compensated.
The families of more than 1,000 veterans and those killed and wounded in bombings and other attacks in Iraq and elsewhere have asked President Joe Biden in a letter to meet some of the families whose loved ones were killed.
“We agree with you that Iran must never be allowed to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, but we believe that any sanctions against Iran should not be lifted or suspended until all pending judgments and pending claims against Iran, thereby releasing the frozen funding and the IRGC is fully satisfied,” said the letter obtained by NBC News. IGRC is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“In our opinion, the funds frozen by Iran should go to first to the American victims of the regime, and then a dollar goes to the regime itself,” the letter said.
The letter estimates that $60 billion in terrorism lawsuit judgments and related liens have not been paid, and billions of dollars in outstanding claims due to the U.S. court case against Iran.
Iranian-backed militias have killed hundreds of U.S. troops in the Iraq war, U.S. officials say. Iran denies any role in the attack.
The United States and European powers reported progress in Vienna in talks with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at preventing Tehran from building nuclear weapons.
Throughout the talks, Iran has been demanding that the U.S. unfreeze billions of dollars globally frozen by U.S. sanctions.
The 2015 deal eased sanctions on Tehran in exchange for tight restrictions on its nuclear program, including limits on enriching uranium and using advanced centrifuges. After the deal was signed, the U.S. lifted some Iranian assets.
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, reimposing economic sanctions on Iran and adding new measures. Because of the reimposition of sanctions, Iran has been denied access to overseas assets, including revenue from some oil sales and other transactions.
The U.S. Treasury Department said this month it would allow South Korea to pay an Iranian company at least $63 million in overdue damages. U.S. sanctions have blocked the money, while Iran has been seeking access to billions of dollars frozen in South Korea and other countries.
Earlier, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun held talks with Robert Marley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran. Iran says the United States has blocked about $7 billion in transactions related to oil shipments in South Korea.
Since the United States withdrew from the 2015 deal, Iran has violated its restrictions on nuclear activities and blocked access to United Nations nuclear inspectors.
Biden administration officials said time was running out for a deal to salvage the deal.