Iran agreed Friday to pay the American oil company Amoco $600 million for facilities seized during the 1979 Islamic revolution, according to an official of the claims panel.
It was the first major settlement of more than $1.8 billion worth of U.S. corporate oil claims filed against Iran at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, arbitrating financial claims by the two nations since 1981.Settlement of the oil claims would be a major step toward resuming oil trading ties between Iran and the United States.
The two nations severed ties after the Islamic revolution, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the seizure of American hostages, who were held by Iranian militants at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days.
The Hague-based tribunal was set up as part of the Algiers Accord of 1980, which paved the way for the release of hostages.
It has been the only official forum where American and Iranian officials have been meeting throughout their nations' decadelong confrontation.
American and Iranian officials have stressed their talks deal only with financial arbitration and do not consider the fate of the six American hostages still being held in Lebanon. But another smaller settlement was reached at the tribunal last month shortly after two American hostages were freed in Lebanon.
The tribunal has three American, three Iranian and three third-nation arbitrators, and has so far settled $3.2 billion worth of government-to-government and private claims, including Friday's settlement.
Oil accounts for 90 percent of Iran's foreign exchange earnings, and the absence of the American market has been a major financial blow to a nation whose economy was ravaged by the eight-year Persian Gulf war with Iraq.