TEHRAN (Press Shia) – The United States is confronting Tehran at the UN’s top court over billions in frozen assets, in a case that could deepen the Trump administration’s rift with international justice.
In 2016, Iran sued the US at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the freezing of around $2 billion of Iranian assets abroad, which US courts had claimed should go to American victims of “terror attacks.”
Monday’s hearing of US objections against Iran’s appeal comes a week after the ICJ in a separate case ordered the United States to ease sanctions reimposed after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Both the assets and the sanctions cases are based on a 1955 “Treaty of Amity” between Washington and Tehran that predates Iran’s Islamic revolution.
Last Wednesday the Trump administration announced it was not only tearing up the 1955 treaty but also that it was quitting the international accord relating to the UN top court’s jurisdiction.
It remained unclear how Washington will respond to the latest case before the court but US officials confirmed that its lawyers will be present at the hearing on Monday.
The ICJ was set up after World War II to rule on disputes between United Nations member states. Its rulings are binding but it has no power to enforce them.
At Monday’s hearing a 15-judge bench is listening to arguments by Washington’s lawyers over whether the ICJ can take up the case under its strict rules governing its procedure, AFP reported.
Iran accused Washington of breaking the 1955 treaty and called for the US “to make full reparations to Iran for the violation of its international legal obligations.”
Tehran said that because the US has maintained its designation of Iran as a major “state sponsor of terrorism”, its assets including the Central Bank also known as the Bank Markazi, have been “subjected to enforcement proceedings in the United States” even if they should benefit from immunity under the 1955 treaty.
A decision by the ICJ’s judges could take weeks or even months before being made public.
Iran won a victory last week when the ICJ ruled that the US must lift sanctions against Tehran targeting humanitarian goods like food and medicine.
In response, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was terminating the 1955 friendship treaty.