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Zarif Tells UN's Ban of US Seizure of $1.8B in Iran Funds, UN Bans Press Coverage

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 28 -- Nine days after Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif met with America's John Kerry but the UN of Ban Ki-moon banned Inner City Press from covering it, Zarif has written to Ban about American courts' "ruling that authorized the confiscation of nearly 1.8 billion US Dollars of assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran to the benefit of private litigants."

  Here is Zarif's letter to Ban:

"In the past few years, the United States has persistently engaged in a dangerous practice of defying international law and order by allowing, in fact instigating, private litigants to bring civil action before U.S domestic courts against sovereign states, including the Islamic Republic of Iran. Trials have been organized in absentia; self-serving judgments have been obtained in default; and claims have been laid on the assets of the Iranian people.

Knowing full well that no self-respecting nation, certainly not Iran, would ever subject itself to the jurisdiction of another state's domestic courts, they have amassed billions of dollars in unlawful and factually flawed default judgements against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its organs.

The U.S Executive branch illegally freezes Iranian national assets; the U.S Legislative branch legislates to pave the ground for their illicit seizures; and the U.S Judicial branch issues rulings to confiscate Iranian assets without any base in law or fact.  The veracity and credibility of the US justice system -- when it comes to its treatment of Iran -- can be measured by the recent ruling of a New York District Court that ordered Iran to pay more than $10.5 billion in damages to the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, claiming against all evidence and common sense that Iran "provided active support to the attackers." Such absurd allegation – not by a politician but regrettably by a so-called court of law—contradicts even public statements as well as findings – open or sealed -- of investigations by the US Government and US Congress. Ironically the same court absolved the real culprits of any responsibility and ruled against Iran, which was the victim of the same terrorist group and has consistently been in the forefront of international efforts against them and their Takfiri extremist siblings.

In sum, in blatant contravention of the most fundamental principles of international law – not to mention facts, the United States has devised a pseudo-legal scheme that subjects Iranian assets held in US and foreign banks, and even Iranian cultural property held on loan by American museums, to spurious rulings and unlawful collection proceedings.

The principle of state immunity is one of the cornerstones of the international legal order and a rule of customary international law, most recently codified in the United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property. Its primacy has also been recognized by the community of nations, all legal systems and the International Court of Justice. With the sole possible permissible exception of "commercial activity", claims against a sovereign state must be pursued either in accordance with mechanisms provided for in bilateral or multilateral agreements or through international courts or tribunals, as appropriate.

It is a matter of grave concern that the United States Congress, along with other branches of the U.S Government, seem to believe that they can easily defy and breach the fundamental principle of state immunity, by unilaterally waiving the immunity of states and even Central Banks in total contravention of the international obligations of the United States and under a groundless legal doctrine that the international community does not recognize.
In view of the detrimental effect of such practices on the integrity of the international public order, I wish to alert you and through you the UN general membership about the catastrophic implications of the US blatant disrespect for state immunity, which will cause systematic erosion of this fundamental principle.

The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects the unlawful decisions by US courts in this respect, including the ruling that authorized the confiscation of nearly 1.8 billion US Dollars of assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran to the benefit of private litigants. The entire court proceedings which led to the recent ruling has been fake and phony and a travesty of justice in every sense of law, jurisdiction, merit, fact and process. This clearly constitutes an international wrongful act and entails international responsibility for the Government of the United States, for which it will be held accountable.The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the United States Government responsible for this outrageous robbery, disguised under a court order, and is determined to take every lawful measure to restore the stolen property and the interest accrued to it from the date it was blocked by the United States.

It is in fact the United States that must pay long overdue reparations to the Iranian people for its persistent hostile policies. Such wrongful US policies and actions against Iranian people, entailing international responsibility, are self-admitted and based on solid historical evidence and not absurd fabrications. They include overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953, actively supporting and sponsoring the ensuing brutal dictatorship and aiding and abetting in its crimes – including tortures by US-created and US-trained SAVAK -- against the Iranian people from 1953 to 1979, actively providing intelligence, support and comfort to Saddam Hussein in his war of aggression against Iran from 1980 to 1988, including provision of AWACS reconnaissance to aid Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and civilians – which amounts to a war crime , deliberate shooting of an Iranian civil airliner in 1988, killing all 290 passengers, and the plundering of Iranian assets held abroad. The Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to take appropriate lawful action, including necessary and proportionate countermeasures, to restore and protect the rights of the Iranian people against such persistent unlawful conduct by the United States.

Mr. Secretary-General,
There has seldom been so much at stake for the rule of law, the proper functioning and integrity of the international legal and financial systems, and the prevalence of dialogue and accommodation over coercion and confrontation.  In view of the detrimental effects of continued unlawful conduct by the United States, I wish to call on Your Excellency to lend your good offices in order to induce the US Government to adhere to its international obligations, put an end to the violation of the fundamental principle of state immunity, release all frozen Iranian assets in US banks and cease and desist forthwith from any interference with Iranian commercial and financial transactions outside the United States, in compliance with its general international obligations and its obligations under the JCPOA.

I will be grateful if this letter were circulated as a document of the General Assembly under agenda item entitled “Rule of law at the national and international levels” and of the Security Council."

Back on April 19 when US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met in the UN on April 19, they each announced they would meet again on April 22 about the JCPOA.

  While this might seem like mechanical news, the UN and its partners in censorship saw fit to make it difficult or impossible for non-favored journalists to cover it. Inner City Press, which until this year being ousted (on February 19, audio here) and then evicted (on April 16, video here and here), was always able to cover events on the UN's second floor, now can't.

 A request to pass through the turnstile was denied, and Media Accreditation, which oversaw and filmed Saturday's eviction, was no help. But here, as fast as Inner City Press could obtain them, are the quotes:

Kerry: "We agreed to – we’re both working at making sure that the JCPOA, the Iran agreement – nuclear agreement – is implemented in exactly the way that it was meant to be and that all the parties to that agreement get the benefits that they are supposed to get out of the agreement.  So we worked on a number of key things today, achieved progress on it, and we agreed to meet on Friday.  After the signing of the climate change agreement, we will meet again to sort of solidify what we talked about today."

  Zarif confirmed, “We focused on how we will implement the JCPOA. We meet again on Friday.”

   But why would the UN evict and restrict reporters, for their coverage? The ouster and eviction were ordered by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach, with a conflict of interest as she appears in the UN's Ng Lap Seng case audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b); Ban Ki-moon told Inner City Press, "That is not my decision." We'll have more on this.

When the US dramatically called for a UN Security Council meeting about Iran's ballistic missile launch, outside the Council Iran distributed a written statement, while Israel's Danny Danon and then Samantha Power spoke.

  Iran's statement said, "Security Council resolution 2231 does not prohibit legitimate and conventional military activities, nor does international law disallow them. Iran has never sought to acquire nuclear weapon and never will in the future, as it fully honours its commitment under the NPT and the JCPOA. Consequently, Iran's missiles are not and could not be designed for delivery of unconventional weapons. We reject arbitrary interpretation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 2231 and its annexes, and call upon all parties to act in good-faith and refrain from provocations."

 Danny Danon had a exhibit, a photo of launching missile. Inner City Press asked him if he though Ban Ki-moon is "letting it all hang out" in his final year (including though the ouster of Inner City Press, petition here); Danon said they don't always agree, but they talk.

 Samantha Power took a single question, from AP. Inner City Press asked, audibly, if she is aware of the Government Accountability Project letter to her Mission, here.We'll have more on this.

  The UN Secretariat's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below.

 In the UN Security Council on the Yemen sanctions resolution adopted on February 24, language was added to try to discourage the Panel of Experts from looking into the act of the Saudi-led Coalition. Concessions were made, of a kind not made for or about other countries under sanctions.

  (Inner City Press had to follow the process from outside the UN, literally, the park on 43rd Street across First Avenue, because only days after Inner City Press asked why the UN was so quiet about false claims of Iranian military equipment in a UN WFP aid ship, Inner City Press was summarily thrown out of the UN, and Banned, without due process. Petition here.)

 On March 1, back in on a reduced access pass, Inner City Press asked UN OCHA official John Ging about taking "aid" money from Saudi Arabia while it blasts away at Yemen. Video here.

 Ging said these two are "ring fenced," and that the UN doesn't allow Saudi Arabia to put conditions on aid or where it is delivered.
  Inner City Press asked, what about the Saudi threat that aid workers should leave Houthi-controlled areas? Ging said the UN had pushed back.

But quietly, as was the case with the Saudi diversion of the WFP ship. Does money talk?  Apparently yes.

The Yemen "government," which under UN rules could hold a press conference for all journalists in the UN Press Briefing Room, has instead chosen to invited only members of the Gulf and Western media dominated UN Correspondents Association to a spin session. We've put the leaked invitation online here; here's some of the text:

Dear Colleagues,

UNCA is extending an invitation sent from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Yemen, to a light breakfast briefing with a public diplomacy delegation on their visit to New York to discuss the current political situation in Yemen, on Tuesday, March 8th at 9:00am at the mission (413 East 51st street). Please see the attached invitation to RSVP.

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President

The focus of the annexed invitation is on "IHL and HRL violations of the Houthi - Saleh rebels." This is UNCA: this is how the UN works, or doesn't.

On March 3, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq why UN OCHA official Stephen O'Brien said he was "pleased" when Saudi Arabia, which funds O'Brien's Yemen appeal, continues to hold the UN's "humanitarian IT equipment" at least under March 6, after Yemen's Ambassador - sure to be present at the spoon-fed breakfast for UNCA - said was Iranian military equipment.

Yemen's Hadi Gov Invites UNCA on "IHL and HL violations of the Houthi - Saleh rebels" Over Breakfast by Matthew Russell Lee

  UNCA played a role in the UN's ouster of Inner City Press, and is now linked to at least two anonymous troll Twitter accounts trying to defend the ouster. This too is how the UN works: UN Censorship Alliance. Here, already public online, are the officials and some of the large and in charge At-Large UNCA 2016 (breakfast) board members:

Giampaolo Pioli, Quotidiano Nazionale

Room: S-422A-2
Phone: (212) 371-1099

Mobile: (917) 287-3969

Nabil Abi Saab, Alhurra TV

Room: S-416A
Phone: (212) 308-2317
Mobile: (202) 413-4666

Valeria Robecco, ANSA News Agency - UNCA Second Vice President 2016

Room: S-0305
Mobile: (973) 413-0864

Ali Barada, An-Nahar Newspaper; France

Room: S-340B
Tel: (917) 365-0942

Carole Landry, Agence France Presse

Room: S-0316
Phone: (212) 759-8183
Mobile (917) 832-5415

Seana Magee, Kyodo News

Room: S-304
Phone: (212) 508-5475
Mobile: (347) 512-5506

Sherwin Bryce-Pease, South African Broadcasting (SABC) - Member at Large, UN Correspondents Association Executive Team 2016

Room: S-415
Phone: (917) 703-4470

Zhenqiu Gu, Xinhua News Agency - Member at Large, UN Correspondents Association Executive Team YYYY

Room: S-313
Phone: (212) 371-9618
Mobile (917) 868-3210

Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio-Canada - Member at Large, UN Correspondents Association Executive Team 2016

Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio-Canada

Room: S-342
Phone: (212) 546-0510
Mobile: (646) 238-5876

Michelle Nichols, Reuters (NA) - Member at Large, UN Correspondents Association Executive Team 2016

Room: S-321
Phone: (212) 355-6053
Mobile: (646) 775-5943

Sylviane Zehil, L'Orient Le Jour - Member at Large, UN Correspondents Association Executive Team 2016

Sylviane Zehil, L’Orient Le Jour

Room: S-419A-1
Phone: (212) 529-9136
Mobile: (917) 882-8244
Email: &

Masood Haider, Dawn Pakistan (D) - Member at Large, UN Correspondents Association Executive Team 2016

Masood Haider, Dawn Pakistan

Room: S-348C
Mobile: (917) 971-1170

  In action.
 This same UNCA board in December 2015 offered up seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000, after arranging for indicted Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban. Covering the organization is entirely legitimate, whatever the UN says, now more than ever with the spoonfed breakfast of Yemen spin.

 On February 28, Ban Ki-moon but not his invisible envoy issued a canned statement about the previous day's airstrike:

"The Secretary-General... calls for a prompt and impartial investigation of this incident."

  Ban's call for an impartial investigation rings hollow, when he has allowed his Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach to oust Inner City Press, which reports on Yemen, based on an "investigation" which never even SPOKE to Inner City Press. This incongruity, and its consequences, has been raised directly to Ban and his most senior advisers. Impartial?

Previously: Inner City Press obtained UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's documents for the delayed talks in Switzerland, and exclusively put them online here.

UN Yemen Talks Documents Leaked to Inner City Press, December 2015 by Matthew Russell Lee


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