In an apparent tit-for-tat move, Iran's outgoing parliament has passed a bill that requires the government to seek compensation from the United States for "material and moral damages" due to U.S. policies toward Tehran over the past six decades.
The general outline of the bill was approved May 17 with the backing of 174 lawmakers in the 290-seat parliament. It now needs approval by the Guardians Council, Iran's top legislative body, to become law.
Iran's hard-line Fars news agency reported that lawmakers chanted "Death to America" after the vote.
"It is necessary for the parliament to take action against the series of U.S. actions to seize Iranian assets," lawmaker Ebrahim Karkhaneyi, one of the bill's sponsors, was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
The bill was adopted less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Tehran must pay nearly $2 billion in frozen assets to victims and families of those killed in the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other terrorist attacks blamed on the Islamic republic.
Tehran has denied any role in the attacks. Iranian authorities have denounced the ruling as "robbery" while vowing legal action to recover the frozen funds.
"The government will never allow for the money that belongs to the Iranian nation to be easily gobbled up by the Americans," President Hassan Rohani said on May 10.
He added that Tehran would take the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision and the new Iranian legislation come amid a thaw in relations between Tehran and the West following a July deal with global powers that placed restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The Iranian bill seeks damages for the 1953 coup orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency that ousted Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh; Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq, in which Washington provided support to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; and U.S. backing for Israel's actions against Iran.
It says that Iran should also seek damages from the United States for the death of "17,000 martyrs of terror attacks," espionage against Iran, and the destruction of oil platforms in the Persian Gulf.
During the May 17 parliamentary session, hard-line lawmaker Hamid Rasayi proposed that Iran seize U.S. assets passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
"If the U.S. should seek to misappropriate the Iranian nation's assets, the strait must be turned into an insecure place for them and U.S. vessels banned from passing through it," Rasayi was quoted as saying.
Lawmakers rejected his proposal.
Iran's vice president for parliamentary affairs, Majid Ansari, said Rasayi's proposal ran counter to Iran's national interests and the country's constitution, despite "its revolutionary appearance."