Iran went to the United Nations' highest court Monday in a bid to have US sanctions lifted following President Trump's decision earlier this year to re-impose them, calling the move "naked economic aggression." Iran filed the case with the International Court of Justice in July, claiming that sanctions the Trump administration imposed on May 8 breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates economic and consular ties between the two countries. At hearings that started Monday at the court's headquarters in the Hague, Tehran asked judges at the world court to urgently suspend the sanctions to protect Iranian interests while the case challenging their legality is being heard—a process that can take years. The AP has much more:
- Background: Trump said in May that he would pull the United States out of a 2015 agreement over Iran's nuclear program and would re-impose sanctions on Tehran. Washington also threatened other countries with sanctions if they don't cut off Iranian oil imports by early November.
- US response: In a written statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the legal move an attempt by Tehran "to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions, which are necessary to protect our national security." The United States, which argues that the court does not have jurisdiction in the case, is to present its legal arguments to judges on Tuesday.
- More on Iran's argument: Iranian representative Mohsen Mohebi told the court the US decision was a clear breach of the 1955 treaty as it was "intended to damage, as severely as possible, Iran's economy." Mohebi said the re-imposition of sanctions was unjustified as Iran was abiding by the terms of the 2015 deal. He said sanctions are already having damaging effects on Iran's economy and society and threaten to further destabilize the volatile Mideast.
- More background: The 1955 treaty was signed when the US and Iran were still allies following the 1953 revolution—fomented by Britain and the US—that ultimately cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Iran and the US have a history of litigation at the International Court of Justice, in cases covering crises including the Tehran embassy hostage-taking and the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet mistaken by a US warship for a fighter jet. Rulings by the world court, which settles disputes between nations, are final and legally binding.
- The gulf: Reuters separately reports a top Iranian naval official on Monday said Iran now fully controls the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz that connects the gulf with the open ocean, and "there is no need for the presence of aliens like the US and the countries whose home is not in here." Reuters notes the country has indicated that it could choke off other countries' oil exports as a sort of payback for the US curtailing its own foreign oil sales via sanctions.
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