Iran goes to UN’s highest court over US sanctions

Iran filed a complaint against Washington in July, saying that by pulling out of the deal, the USA breached the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights signed in 1955.

The United States vowed to fight Iran before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), calling Tehran's move to question the legality of recently reimposed sanctions an attempt to interfere with its national security.

Iran said the United States sanctions, which are damaging its already-weak economy, violate terms of a little-known 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries.

Following Washington's withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, and the renewal of US sanctions, many Western airlines have lined up to leave Iran and suspend their flights to the country.

The treaty was signed when the US and Iran were still allies following the 1953 revolution - fomented by Britain and the USA - that ultimately cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

In oral arguments in The Hague, Iran's representative Mohsen Mohebi accused Washington of plotting his country's "economic strangulation".

Iran and the US have a history of litigation at the International Court of Justice, in cases covering crises including the embassy seizure and the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet mistaken by a USA warship for a fighter jet.

The US and Iran have clashed at the court in the past since they became enemies after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Despite the dramatic deterioration in relations, the treaty remains in force. A decision on the urgent request for a suspension is likely to take weeks.

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Mohebi said the re-imposition of sanctions was unjustified as Iran was abiding by the terms of the 2015 deal.

United States lawyers are expected to argue the United Nations court should not have jurisdiction in the dispute, that the friendship treaty is no longer valid, and the sanctions Washington levied against Tehran do not violate the deal.

"Certainly, if the court thinks that there's been a violation, it won't shy away from saying so", Lester said, adding other courts in Europe have also looked into the legality of the sanctions.

Sanctions had been lifted under a 2015 multilateral agreement in return for Iran committing not to pursue nuclear weapons. He said they were needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb and to address its continuing missile programme and support for terrorism. Trump called the accord the "worst deal ever".

The boom that gained momentum following the implementation of JCPOA in 2016 died down after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal in May, and numerous Western tours to Iran were canceled.

He said sanctions are already having damaging effects on Iran's economy and society and threaten to further destabilize the volatile Mideast.

Mr Trump, who took office previous year, called it a "horrible one-sided deal" that "failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to a Iranian nuclear bomb".

In an initial written submission to the court, the United States said it believed The Hague court has no jurisdiction in the case and that Iran's assertions fall outside the bounds of the treaty.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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