The former Iranian embassy in Northwest Washington, D.C., sits vacant with chipped paint, plastic ties binding the front door handles and a driveway that is cut off by a metal chain. The red brick ambassador’s residence nearby is empty, abandoned by officials 30 years ago when the United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran.

A team of lawyers in Washington that represents the estate of a bombing victim want the forlorn properties sold to satisfy a nearly $13 million judgment against Iran for its alleged sponsorship of a 2002 terrorist attack in Jerusalem. But the U.S. Department of Justice convinced a judge to block the effort, arguing the real estate is an important diplomatic tool and should remain in the hands of the State Department.

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