TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) – An Iranian court on Thursday ordered the US government to pay more than $4 billion to the families of Iranian nuclear scientists killed in targeted attacks in recent years, state media reported.
The ruling, which is largely symbolic, underscores rising tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s rapidly expanding nuclear program as talks with the nuclear powers stalled to revive the ailing deal.
Although Iran has in the past blamed Israel for attacking Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, it did not directly blame its arch enemy in the declaration. Iran has not recognized Israel since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamists to power.
The court referred to Israel only by saying that the United States supported the “Zionist regime” in its “organized crime” against the victims.
As in previous cases, the implementation of this decision between the two sides was unclear: there are no US assets in the country that could be confiscated.
Despite this, the court dedicated to reviewing Iranian complaints against Washington summoned 37 former US officials, including former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, as well as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Brian Hook, a former Iranian envoy and former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Trump unilaterally withdrew the country from the nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed harsh economic sanctions that deprived Iran of most of its oil revenues and international financial transactions.
His successor, Joe Biden, wanted to return to the deal, but talks have stalled in recent weeks after Washington designated the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, Iran is enriching uranium to its nearest level of weapons grade under decreasing international surveillance. Earlier this month, it withdrew 27 surveillance cameras from the International Atomic Energy Agency, in what the UN agency’s director says is a “fatal blow” to the nuclear deal.
The families of three nuclear scientists killed in the targeted attacks and a scientist injured in another incident filed a complaint in Tehran, state news agency IRNA reported, which did not identify the plaintiffs. The court awarded Washington a total of $4.3 billion, including fines.