U.S. veterans, families ask Biden admin not to release frozen funds to Iran till terror cases settled

US military veterans and their families on Thursday urged the Biden administration not to release frozen funds to Iran as part of the nuclear talks until American victims of terrorist attacks by the Tehran regime or its proxies are compensated.

More than 1,000 veterans and family members of those killed or wounded in bombings and other attacks in Iraq and elsewhere wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, asking him to meet with some of the families of those killed.

“We share your view that Iran should never be allowed to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, but we do not believe that sanctions against Iran leading to the release of frozen funds should be lifted or suspended pending all pending judgments and pending.” Lawsuits against Iran have been settled and the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) are fully satisfied,” the letter read to NBC News.

“In our view, Iran’s frozen funds should go First the American victims of the regime before even a single dollar goes to the regime itself,” it said.

The letter said there was an estimated $60 billion in unpaid terrorism-related lien lawsuits as a result of US lawsuits against Iran, with billions more bound in pending lawsuits.

US officials previously said hundreds of American soldiers were killed by Iranian-backed militias in the Iraq war. Iran has denied any role in the attacks.

The families’ appeal comes as US and European powers reported modest progress in talks in Vienna with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons.

During the talks, Iran has urged the US to release billions of dollars in funds around the world that have been frozen by US sanctions.

The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers eased sanctions on Tehran in exchange for severe restrictions on its nuclear program, including limits on uranium enrichment and the use of advanced centrifuges. When the deal was signed, the US released some Iranian assets.

President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran and added new measures. As a result of the re-imposed sanctions, Iran is denied access to assets abroad, including proceeds from some oil sales and other transactions.

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department said it would allow South Korea to pay at least $63 million in overdue damages to an Iranian company. The money had been blocked by US sanctions, and Iran has been trying to gain access to billions of dollars frozen in South Korea and other countries.

The move followed talks between South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley. Iran says US has blocked about $7 billion in South Korea related to oil shipments.

Since the US withdrew from the deal, Iran has violated the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities and blocked access for UN nuclear inspectors.

Biden administration officials say time is running out to reach a deal to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

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