NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Paying Claims Against Iraq

February 28, 1997

Six and a half years after the Gulf War, thousands of U.S. companies and veterans are waiting to be paid for losses and injuries the Iraqis inflicted on them. And American taxpayers are waiting for Iraq to cover millions in unpaid export credit guarantees.

The money is available from frozen Iraqi assets in the U.S. But the whole sorting-out process hasn't even started yet.

  • When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the U.S. froze Iraqi assets now worth $1.2 billion.
  • But the Treasury Department estimates that $3 billion to $5 billion will be needed to cover claims.
  • While the State Department wants all claimants treated alike -- corporations, government and veterans -- some senators want corporations to take precedence over veterans and taxpayers.
  • Were all parties to be treated alike, each would probably get only 25 cents on the dollar of their claims.

Legislation would have to be enacted first. Critics claim that Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Charles Robb (D-VA) want legislation which would move corporations -- particularly tobacco companies and agricultural exporting firms -- to the head of the line.

The State Department pushed for legislation on the claims in both 1993 and 1995 without achieving passage.

If and when the process gets underway, U.S. claims will be decided by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, a branch of the Justice Department. But insiders say the longer the delay, the more difficult it becomes to adjudicate the claims.

Source: David A. Price, "Who's at the Head of the Line," Investor's Business Daily, February 28, 1997.


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