U.N. Court hears Iran's lawsuit to have U.S. sanctions lifted
Iranian lawyers asked the International Court of Justice today to order the United States to lift its sanctions imposed against Tehran.
The presiding judge of the U.N. body informally known as the World Court began the hearing by calling on Washington to respect its outcome. During their decades of animosity, both the United States and Iran have ignored some rulings at the court.
The lawsuit filed with the ICJ says the U.S. sanctions, which are damaging the already weak Iranian economy, violate terms of a little-known friendship treaty between the two countries.
"The U.S. is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran's economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals," said Mohsen Mohebi, representing Iran, at the start of four days of oral hearings. "This policy is plainly in violation of the 1955 Treaty of Amity."
He said Iran had sought a diplomatic solution to the countries' dispute but was rejected, Reuters reported.
The United States said in an initial written reaction displayed in court that it believes the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the case, and that Iran's assertions fall outside the bounds of the treaty.
U.S. lawyers led by State Department adviser Jennifer Newstead, appointed by Trump in 2017, are due to respond Tuesday. A ruling is expected within a month, though no date has been set.
The ICJ is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes. Its rulings are binding, but it has no power to enforce them.
U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 pact between Iran and major world powers under which sanctions were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program. The Trump administration then announced unilateral plans to restore sanctions against Tehran. Although Washington's European allies protested against Trump's move, most Western companies intend to adhere to the sanctions, preferring to lose business in Iran than be punished by the United States or barred from doing business there.
At the start of today's hearing, the court's president, Abdulqawi Yusuf, leading a 15-judge panel, urged the U.S. to adhere to any provisional decision the court may make.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Tehran has chosen the right strategy for responding to U.S. sanctions. "The Iranians, in my opinion, did the right thing. They raised the issue of the correlation of international legality, the existed agreements and treaties with the current actions of the U.S. administration. Now a large number of countries face the question of some reaction to these unilateral sanctions from the U.S., as a rule, there is talk about a so-called tit-for-tat response, within which trade and economic responses to Washington look inadequate, as it harms interests of their own export companies. Therefore, it is necessary to expand the range of negative reaction to the actions of the U.S.," he explained.
"And in this regard, Iran's current actions is a qualitatively new element in attracting international mechanisms in order to qualify the new practice of Americans. Others also should do something similar, including Russian representatives, the actions of which at the WTO look rather poorly. Depending on whether these hearings will give any real results, it is very important to use international channels to create moral-political, moral-economic and moral-financial action against the U.S.," Andrey Baklanov stressed.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association does not expect that the hearings at the UN can lead to any coordinated practical step against the U.S. "The UN can impose sanctions only on the basis of the decision of the Security Council. I think it is unrealistic, because the U.S. will not allow to impose any sanctions on it. But using other mechanisms, primarily related to trade and economic relations, is really an open direction to work on it," the diplomat concluded.