A federal appeals court says the families of four terrorist attack victims who won financial judgments against Iran can go after $17 million owed to an Iranian bank.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected Bank Melli's attempt to dismiss the families' claims for the money.

The court said Bank Melli is Iran's national bank, and Congress has stated clearly that victims of terrorism can collect money they're owed from instruments of the state that sponsored the attacks.

A call to an attorney who represented the bank was not immediately returned.

The families of the victims and some of the victims themselves had won nearly $1 billion in financial judgements against Iran for four terrorist attacks between 1999 and 2002, including a 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia.