Iran's pro-reform parliament gave final approval Wednesday to new legislation that will allow Iranian "victims of US interference" to sue the United States for damages.
To cries in the chamber of "Down with America," MPs overwhelmingly passed the law on second reading, striking back after Washington said it would use frozen Iranian assets to pay US victims of what it calls Iran-sponsored terrorism in the 1980s.
"This law shows the unity of our people," said parliament's vice president Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of the president, who presided over the session which was broadcast live on state radio.
The bill, which passed easily on first reading Tuesday, will allow lawsuits in Iranian courts by "any victims of US interference since the 1953 coup d'etat."
The US-backed coup, which deposed nationalist prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh and allowed the pro-Western shah to seize power, was a sore point long before the 1979 Islamic revolution that led to the break in relations.
The United States earlier this year admitted that it had played a role in that coup and expressed its regret over the affair -- a move that President Mohammed Khatami had said would be a "big step" toward patching up ties.
Wednesday's final passage of the bill comes just two days before the annual ceremonies marking the 1979 hostage-taking at the US embassy in Tehran, which led to the diplomatic rupture.
US lawmakers and the administration of President Bill Clinton agreed to use Iranian assets frozen in the United States after the 1979 Tehran embassy hostage taking as leverage to front money to eight US families, the Washington Post reported last week.
It said the US Treasury would disburse more than 213 million dollars to the families, in effect marking the first time that foreign countries are being forced to pay damages under a 1996 US anti-terrorism law.
Washington expects to get the money back through an international claim tribunal or negotiations with Iran, the paper said.
It said former Lebanon hostage Terry Anderson is to receive 41.2 million dollars in compensation under the scheme, while the family of slain Marine Colonel William Higgins will receive 55.4 million dollars.
Washington accuses Iran of being behind the kidnappings of all 18 US citizens taken hostage during Lebanon's civil war in the 1980s – TEHRAN (AFP)
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