In response to a UN court order that the US lift sanctions on Iran, the Trump administration said Wednesday it was terminating a decades-old treaty affirming friendly relations between the two countries. The move is a largely symbolic gesture that highlights deteriorating relations between Washington and Tehran, the AP reports. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said withdrawing from the 1955 Treaty of Amity was long overdue and followed Iran "groundlessly" bringing a complaint with the International Court of Justice challenging US sanctions on the basis that they were a violation of the pact. Meanwhile, national security adviser John Bolton said the administration also was pulling out of an amendment to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that Iran or others, notably the Palestinians, could use to sue the US at The Hague-based tribunal. Bolton told reporters at the White House that the provision violates US sovereignty.
"The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us," Bolton said. He cited a case brought to the court by the "so-called state of Palestine" challenging the move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the main reason for withdrawing. Bolton, who last month unleashed a torrent of criticism against the International Criminal Court, noted that previous Republican administrations had pulled out of various international agreements and bodies over "politicized cases." He said the administration would review all accords that might subject the US to prosecution by international courts or panels. Earlier, Pompeo denounced the Iranian case before the UN court as "meritless" and said the Treaty of Amity was meaningless and absurd. "The Iranians have been ignoring it for an awfully long time, we ought to have pulled out of it decades ago," he told reporters at the State Department. Click for more on the little-known treaty and the UN ruling.