Iranian banker arranged 'moderate' terms
Iran has gone out of its way to formulate the conditions for the release of the 52 American hostages in a manner that would be legally and politically acceptable to the United States.Skip to next paragraph
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The four conditions, announced in an open session of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) Nov. 2, were passed within two hours of being read in the house.
Though a special parliamentary commission had been given the job of formulating the conditions more than a month ago, the final draft was actually drawn up by the commission together with the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Ali Reza Nobari, a close aide of Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr.
Mr. Nobari has acted as adviser to the special parliamentary commission and saw Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Oct. 30. The Central Bank governor spent Oct. 29 and 30 with the special parliamentary commission and was able to convince the commission that the approach he had worked out was the only one the US would find both legally and politically acceptable.
By Iranian standards, the four conditions announced Nov. 2 would be considered moderate. The four were:
* That the United States "must undertake and guarantee that from now on it will not interfere in any way directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in the affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
* That the US would "release all Iranian funds" frozen by a presidential decree Nov. 14 last year, and that "all consequences resulting from this decree must be remedied." It added that "the US president must take the necessary legal and administrative action in order to cancel and annul all orders issued by American courts.
"The security and mobility and free transfer of these assets must be guaranteed against the actions of any real or legal person, whether American or not, inside the United States."
* That the US must take "all necessary administrative and legal action to cancel and annul all lawsuits of the US government and American corporations and companies against Iran in any form and under any pretexts."
It also demanded that "if claims are brought forward against Iran or any Iranian subjects in the courts . . . in connection with the capture of the US center of conspiracy [the US Embassy in Tehran] and its arrested personnel, and if the courts issue a verdict against Iran or any Iranian citizen, the American government must bear the responsibility. . . ."
* That the US must officially recognize "the right of the Iranian government to effectively exercise its jurisdiction in expropriating the wealth of the annihilated Shah and his close relatives, which, according to Iranian law, belongs to the Iranian nation. The US president must issue a decree recognizing the fact, ordering the seizure of this wealth, and taking all necessary administrative and legal action for the transfer of this wealth . . . to Iran."
The first two conditions speak for themselves.
The third condition recognizes that a US administration cannot prevent legal action being brought by US corporations, companies, or private individuals against Iran. Hence, the formula was adopted that if they do so, the US government would pay any claims.
In the fourth condition, an "escape formula" has been worked out. Mr. Nobari convinced the commission that it was not possible for the US administration simply to transfer the late Shah's wealth to Iran. Instead, he had worked out with US lawyers that:
1. The US president recognizes the Iranian government's sovereign right to nationalize the Shah's wealth and that this would apply to his wealth in the US.
2. The president would use his emergency powers to issue an order freezing the Shah's wealth, as he did when he ordered the freezing of Iran's assets Nov. 14 last year. In other words, he would order that anyone with any knowledge of the Shah's wealth should report to the US administration, under threat of legal action if he does not do so.
It is accepted implicitly in this condition that the Shah's wealth cannot be transferred to Iran without due legal process -- meaning that it would have to be brought up in US courts.
What this procedure anticipates is that the court process would force the Shah's family to sue the US, demanding the unfreezing of the assets of the Shah and his immediate family. This means that it will be up to the Shah's family -- and not Iran -- to identify the Shah's wealth.
Under the Iranian proposal, the US must accept the four conditions as a package. Iran will free all 52 hostages if all the conditions are met. If time is required to meet any or all of the conditions, provided that the US accepts all the conditions, then some of the hostages will be released.
The Iranian government is prepared to provide an English and Persian text of the conditions for the US government, but in case of differences in the texts, the Persian text will prevail.
The Iranian government is required to execute the proposals after they have been passed by the Majlis.
In case the US government does not accept part or all of the conditions, the Iranian judiciary (not the Islamic judiciary) will try the hostages.
Meanwhile, a practical difficulty could prevent the physical release of the hostages during the day of Nov. 4. The militants in the US Embassy have called for a mass rally then outside the embassy main gates. A huge crowd is almost certain to attend -- making it extremely difficult to get the captives out. And observers in Tehran believe that most, though not all, of the hostages still are being held right there in the embassy compound.