U.S. and Iran Sign $105 Million Settlement Accord
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ The United States and Iran have signed a $105 million settlement of some 3,000 financial claims, bringing the two countries one step closer to re- establishing economic relations, a U.S. official said today.
The settlement deals primarily with so-called ″Small Claims″ for under $250,000 that stem from the 1979 Islamic revolution, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It clears the way for the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal to deal with about $16 billion in major claims, whose resolution in turn could open the way to normalizing economic ties between the two nations, the official said.
The settlement accord was signed late Sunday night or early this morning by Timothy Ramish, U.S. agent to the tribunal, and Iranian Agent Ali Nobari, according to the American official at the tribunal.
The most recent settlement talks between U.S. and Iranian officials occurred shortly after the release of American hostages Frank Reed and Robert Polhill by pro-Iranian kidnappers in Lebanon.
But U.S. and Iranian representatives to the tribunal have repeatedly stated the talks dealt only with financial arbitration and not with the six remaining Americans still in captivity in Lebanon.
Last week a U.S. State Department official in Washington, who commented on condition of anonymity, said he could not predict whether resolving its financial disputes will result in the release of remaining hostages or was in any way related to the release of Polhill and Reed.
The Small Claims package dealt primarily with Americans who left behind personal possessions or were owed salaries by Iranian companies when they fled Iran during the revolution. They were settled for a total of $50 million.
The settlement also provided $55 million for repayment of a loan from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The tribunal was set up as part of the Algiers Accord of 1980, which resulted in freedom for the American hostages held by Iranian militants at the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days. The tribunal has three Iranian, three American and three third-nation arbitrators.
The biggest claim still before the tribunal, valued at up to $11 billion by Iran, is for military equipment which Iran ordered but did not receive as a result of the embargo imposed by the U.S. government.
After the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, Iran canceled contracts for $9 billion worth of weaponry, including four destroyers under construction that were later taken over by the U.S. Navy.
Remaining major claims, totaling about $5 billion, were filed by American oil companies for property and operations expropiated by the Iranian government, as well as for broken contracts.