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In 2008 Congress amended the governing law to allow victims who obtain a court ruling against a terrorist country to lay claim to its commercial assets—potentially allowing the victims of the Beirut bombing to satisfy their judgments from funds flowing between Iranian-controlled firms (such as the Iranian National Oil Company) and Western businesses.

Sufficient funds exist: For example, beginning in 2012, pursuant to the Iran Threat Reduction Act and other laws, Congress established special escrow accounts that hold much of the money paid by purchasers of Iranian oil. This money, now amounting to tens of billions of dollars, can and should be used to pay judgments against Iran, and not only in the Beirut embassy case. Iran also has judgments against it for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 bombing of the U.S. Air Force facility in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Obama cannot accomplish that without resolving this dark chapter in our relations with Iran.

the president and Congress have a moral obligation to ensure that these judgments, which represent Iran's legal debt to the victims of its official policy of terrorism, are paid. Lawmakers told victims like me to go to court to obtain justice, but they have not provided us with a mechanism for satisfying the resulting judicial orders.

We have waited since 1983. The time has come for President Obama and Congress to make sure that justice delayed is not justice denied—and that victims of Tehran's policy of terrorism finally receive what they have long been owed.
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