A court in Iran has found the US government and many ex-officials responsible for the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists and demanded monetary compensation.
Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, which is part of the international affairs department of the judiciary, said on Thursday that the verdict was issued by Branch 55 of the Tehran Legal Court over Washington’s violations of international obligations through its support and assistance for Israel in committing “terrorist acts against nuclear scientists.”
IRNA said the lawsuit was filed by “the martyrs' families” over the physical, psychological and financial damage that they endured due to the killings.
According to the court ruling, $2.150 billion was due to the material and moral damages inflicted on the plaintiffs, and the same amount has been considered as punitive measures. The ruling, as reported by state media did not name the plaintiffs.
The move can be a belated reaction to many civil lawsuits in the United States seeking damages for Iran by those whose family members were killed in various acts of political violence, in which Iran had a direct or alleged role.
Until 2016, US courts had awarded plaintiffs a total of $56 billion to be paid by Iran or Iranian entities. A few more billions of dollars have been awarded since 2016.
Some have argued, that this large amounts of pending judgements against Iran is a factor in Iran’s calculations to reach a nuclear agreement to lift US sanctions. The monetary judgements could be a factor in deterring companies from investing in Iran or doing business with it even after sanctions would be lifted.
The defendants in the case are 37 American individuals and entities, including the US government, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the US National Security Agency, former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Assistant Secretary of State Brian Hook, and former Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter.
But the defendants have no assets under Iranian jurisdiction to be seized, and the move by the Tehran court, under the government’s political control, could be a bargaining ploy or simply a propaganda act for domestic audiences.
The US has played an effective role in “establishing, strengthening and supporting Israel as a terrorist regime,” and each year donates hundreds of millions of dollars in direct economic and military support to the regime, the court ruling read.
Over the past years, several Iranian nuclear scientists have been the target of assassinations, which Iran blames on Israel. Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists — Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Ahmadi Roshan — were assassinated, while another, Fereydoon Abbasi, was wounded in an attempted murder. Roshan was the head of a department at the Natanz nuclear facility and was assassinated by a magnetic bomb.
In the latest case, Iran blamed Israel for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, said to be Iran’s top nuclear man, in November 2020 in a highly complicated operation east of the capital Tehran involving a remote-controlled one-ton automated weapon that had been smuggled into the country in pieces.
Iran has also accused Israel of sabotage operations against its nuclear facilities including an explosion in April 2021 that inflicted major damage to the Natanz uranium enrichment site.
Israel has never officially taken responsibility for any of these assassinations and sabotage operations but also has never denied involvement.