Meehan bill aims to block Iran sanctions relief until terrorism victims paid

U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) introduced legislation last week to block sanctions relief for Iran unless it pays the court-ordered damages it owes to terror victims.

Known as the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act, H.R. 3457 strictly prohibits the president from waiving sanctions or from choosing not to apply sanctions in keeping with the Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, until Iran pays the judgments it owes.

Under the terms of the legislation, the president must prove to Congress that the government of Iran has paid all of its judgments.

“Iran should not get a red cent in U.S. sanctions relief until it has paid its victims what they are owed,” Meehan said. “I oppose the Iran deal, but surely, we can all agree that Iran should not reap any benefits from the U.S. until it has compensated the families of those whose lives were taken by Iranian terrorism.”

Presently, the amended Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) gives U.S. victims of state-sponsored terrorism the option to sue in U.S. courts and collect damages from those states.

Iran has accumulated a debt of $43.5 billion in unpaid damages through more than 80 FSIA cases over the last 15 years, the Congressional Research Service said. Iranian terrorism victims who have received judgment awards through U.S. courts include those affected by the 9/11 attacks, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1983 attack on the Beirut Marine barracks, and numerous other bus bombings, suicide attacks, assassinations and hostage incidents.

All of these attacks were shown in court to have been directly or indirectly aided by Iran through financial or other support.

Meehan has represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House since 2011. Born in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania in 1955, Meehan previously served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2008. Meehan was educated at Bowdoin College and serves on the following committees: Ways and Means Committee and Ethics Committee.