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Legality of the International Agreement with Iran and Its Implementing Executive Orders (II)

Date of Issuance:

Executive orders providing for the establishment of escrow accounts with the Bank of England and the Central Bank of Algeria, directing the transfer of previously blocked Iranian government assets to those accounts, and nullifying all interests in the assets other than the interests of Iran and its agents, are within the President’s authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Banks and other holders of Iranian assets need not await formal vacation of court-ordered attachments before complying with transfer orders, since they as well as Executive Branch officials are relieved from any liability for actions taken in good faith in reliance on the IEEPA.

Executive order prohibiting the prosecution of any claims against Iran arising from the hostage seizure, and terminating any previously instituted judicial proceedings based on such a claim, is within the President's authority under the IEEPA and the Hostage Act. The order does not purport to preclude any claimant from petitioning Congress for relief in connection with his claim, nor could it constitutionally do so.

Provisions of executive order blocking property of the former Shah’s estate and that of his close relatives, and requiring all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to submit to the Secretary of the Treasury information about this property to be made available to the government of Iran, are within the President’s authority under the IEEPA. Proposed order also directs the Attorney General to assert in appropriate courts that claims of Iran for recovery of this property are not barred by foreign sovereign immunity or act of state doctrines, and asserts that all Iranian decrees relating to the former Shah and his family should be enforced in courts of the United States.

The President has constitutionally and congressionally conferred authority to enter an agreement designating the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal as the sole forum for determination of claims by the United States or its nationals against Iran, and to confer upon the Tribunal jurisdiction over claims against the United States.

Updated July 9, 2014