In today’s New York Times, Avi Jorisch argues that the U.S. should seize the Iranian embassy and other assets belonging to the Islamic Republic. The purpose isn’t retaliation for the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran more than 31 years ago, but rather to pressure Iran for funding terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda.
There’s a precedent for seizing such assets, Jorisch explains:
In 2003, Washington confiscated valuable Iraqi government property and eventually put $1.7 billion toward the postwar reconstruction effort there. More recently, the Obama administration seized Libyan assets held at American banks and is seeking a way to send that money to Libyan rebels.
The profits from seized Iranian assets would most probably stay right here in the U.S., where they could be used as compensation for victims of Iranian terror.
Over the years, a number of American citizens have taken their case against Iran’s state sponsorship of terror to U.S. courts and have been awarded large compensations. For instance, in May, a D.C. Federal Court judge ordered Iran to pay $600 million in punitive damages to families of U.S. citizens killed in Israel by Iranian-backed organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Last year, the same judge, Royce Lamberth, ordered Iran to pay $92 million to the survivors and relatives of those killed in the 1983 Marines barracks bombing in Beirut, an operation conducted by Iran’s Lebanese asset, Hezbollah.
The proceeds that would come from selling off Iranian assets, like the embassy, would hardly cover the entire debt—in money and blood—that the Iranians have incurred over the last thirty years. But it would show that the executive branch is willing to pursue any avenue in exacting a price for killed Americans.