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Reclaim Illegally Seized Property Iran is Built On to Pressure Regime  

The deal rewarded Iran with $100 billion of frozen oil revenues — however, according to Timmerman, some say, $150 billion, and dismantled international sanctions. Those sanctions cut Iran’s oil exports and banned it from the international financial system.  The economic hardship on the people was beginning to threaten the regime with domestic unrest.

President Obama incorporated most of the deal’s measures into a United Nations Security Council Resolution, which may make its undoing more complicated than a group of American nuclear scientists imply — it’s not just a piece of paper President Trump can tear up.  The international sanctions that were destroyed took years to build and cannot be reconstructed in a day. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) received a letter from The Foundation for Democracy in Iran, a group of conservative leaders, on Thursday. It commended him for a resolution he introduced in the final days of the last Congress, regarding restitution or compensation for property wrongly confiscated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The letter states: Totalitarian regimes historically have confiscated property from individuals whose sole ‘crime’ consisted of supporting the previous government.  When the Islamic regime seized power in 1979, it followed in the footsteps of these earlier totalitarians.” 

The letter from the Foundation, which is chaired by Timmerman, recalled Congressional action against previous cases of unjust expropriation, noting the Helms-Burton Act, which is also known as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996, that penalized foreign companies trafficking in property stolen from Cuban nationals.  Pro-Castro advocates screamed that Helms-Burton would cause irrevocable harm to the United States with friends and allies around the world. Nothing of the sort occurred,” the letter states, and adds, We believe the time has come to envisage a similar measure for the victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran, many of whom have become United States citizens, whose properties were unjustly expropriated.” 

Colin A. Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring; Admiral James Ace” Lyons, Jr, former Pacific Fleet commander; Frank Gaffney, President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy; Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation; Amy Ridenour, Chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research; Ellen Sauerbrey, former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; and Timmerman, himself are all signatories to the letter, which also won support and was signed by Iranian-American human rights advocates and journalists, and by leaders of the American Middle East Coalition for Trump.

Fifty-one supporters of the previous regime and their families had their assets seized on July 7, 1979, under a decree issued by Iran.  A revolutionary Court issued a separate order a few weeks later, and the assets of another 209 individuals and their families were confiscated. 

Timmerman writes that, according to court documents the claimants provided to him, the seized properties included major factories and industrial conglomerates, hotels, private residences, real estate, land, stock, and other holdings, which today are worth more than $100 billion. Para-state foundations, known as bonyads,” owned or controlled by the Supreme Leader or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), received the assets.  

In end, thousands of Iranians had property seized, and millions more were terrorized with the threat of confiscations.  Many fled to America and became U.S. citizens, but few were American citizens at the time of the revolution, and so they have been unable to seek restitution through the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague, or through U.S. courts. 

Timmerman writes, “Ordinary Iranians understand that the ruling clerics have plundered their country. How else could a village cleric such as Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei personally own a commercial empire the U.S. Treasury has estimated to be worth more than $40 billion? A separate 2013 Reuters investigation found that the property confiscations on behalf of Iran’s clerical leadership were about $95 billion.”

He suggests that a  Congressionally-enacted Iran Assets Recovery Plan would be a powerful weapon against the regime in Iran.  A Recovery Plan would not only bring justice to some of the many victims of the confiscations, but it would put the Iranian regime’s foreign partners on notice. 

“Traffic in stolen property at your peril. A regime founded on theft will end up bankrupt, in jail, or dead,” Timmerman concludes.