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Iran Deal Neglects US Terror Victims

Sumner Park Contributor

When the Iran deal was reached three weeks ago, the agreement left sanctions related to victims of terrorism untouched.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the assets add up to billions of dollars, which accounts for a key source of tension between the two countries.

Over the past two decades, survivors of terrorist attacks have sued the Iranian government in U.S. courts. About 100 lawsuits have been filed, indemnifying damage from terrorism around the world, including costs from the Sept. 11, 2001 attack. Iran currently owes $45 billion, including a $21.6 billion charge covering compensatory damages, according to calculations by Crowell & Moring LLP.

However, Iran has yet to pay up, and the deal does nothing to challenge the intransigence.

Instead, the deal will work in favor of terrorism sponsored organizations in Iran by removing remove individuals or entities associated with terrorism or previously identified with supporting nuclear attacks against the West from the list of sanctions. One of the individuals includes Ahmad Vahidi, former commander of Iran’s Force of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard. Vahidi also took part in the deadly 1994 Jewish Community Center bombing in Buenos Aires.

Vahidi is one of the many claimed terrorists who will be released without facing justice. The Iranian deal will also remove sanctions from organizations sponsoring attacks against the West, including the Research Centre for Explosion and Impact. (RELATED: Iran Deal Includes Provisions The Military Opposed Just Last Week [VIDEO])

On the other side of the deal, however, victims of terrorist attacks await judgments alongside a legal system that is limited in compensation options. The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which paved the way for victims to sue countries like Iran in U.S. courts for monetary damages, is flawed by the challenge of actually enforcing the judgments.

Victims’ lawyers have sought ways to obtain compensations. Some have tried to turn over funds deposited at the Iranian central bank to victims’ families of the 1983 Beirut Marin Corps barracks bombing, a case currently on appeal with the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The victims of the bombing make up part of the biggest portion of the unpaid judgments.

Lynn Smith Derbyshire, national spokeswoman for the families of victims in the Beirut attack, said that she and her family face in a “constantly open wound,” as the constant reminders come without closure.

A State Department official said that although the talks strictly covered nuclear sanctions and went without a mention of terrorism victims, repairing the damage done by terrorism is next on the agenda.

A specialist in terrorism litigation said that if, the nuclear deal, goes through, resolving terror cases inevitably comes after.

“Iran doesn’t want to see sanctions lifted and lawyers for hundreds of plaintiffs attaching their bank funds all around the world,” James Kreindler, of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP said.

Many lawyers suggest emulating the resolution with Libya under former President George W. Bush. The U.S. agreed to remove economic sanctions and to stabilize relations with Libya after the nuclear-weapons program was eradicated. The deal also focused on compensating surviving victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism. Moammar Gadhafi agreed to pay $4 billion to the victims, which was distributed to each wrongful death and each personal-injury victim.

Until nuclear sanctions are resolved, victims will wait for sanctions related to human rights and terrorism to be put forward. (RELATED: Many Democrats Not Ready To Decide Which Way To Vote On Iran Deal)