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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 21, 1998


The United States has been unrelenting in the fight against terrorism. We have taken strong measures against nations, including Iran, that have sponsored terrorist efforts. We have also supported efforts to obtain justice on behalf of victims of terrorism, including Alisa Flatow, an American student killed by a 1995 terrorist attack in Israel.

However, the struggle to defeat terrorism would be weakened, not strengthened, by putting into effect a provision of the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 1999. It would permit individuals who win court judgments against nations on the State Department's terrorist list to attach embassies and certain other properties of foreign nations, despite U.S. laws and treaty obligations barring such attachment.

The new law allows the President to waive the provision in the national security interest of the United States. President Clinton has signed the bill and, in the interests of protecting America's security, has exercised the waiver authority. If the U.S. permitted attachment of diplomatic properties, then other countries could retaliate, placing our embassies and citizens overseas at grave risk. Our ability to use foreign properties as leverage in foreign policy disputes would also be undermined.

The Administration stands ready to work with the Flatow family, which won a U.S. court judgment against Iran, in identifying Iranian commercial assets that may be available for attachment. We will work to achieve justice for Alisa Flatow and other victims without undermining our ability to protect our interests and conduct foreign relations, including the fight against terrorism, around the world.