The supreme court of the United Nations has said it will hear Iran’s request to overturn U.S. nuclear sanctions reimposed by former President Donald Trump, prompting Washington’s “disappointment,” which had argued that the issue falls beyond its control.
In the lawsuit brought three years ago at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Iran’s foreign minister quickly greeted Wednesday’s ruling as a “victory.”
Tehran argues that Trump violated a 1955 friendship pact between the two countries when he was US president by walking out of a nuclear agreement in 2015, to the dismay of European allies, and reactivating the sanctions.
The Hague-based ICJ had been told by Washington that it had no authority and would throw the case away. It also claimed that the sanctions were appropriate because Iran posed a “serious threat” to international security.
Yet the court’s judges dismissed all the US challenges.
Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the ICJ, claimed that the tribunal “consequently finds that it has jurisdiction […] to hear the request made by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The US State Department has reported that it is “disappointed” with the ruling.
“We will explain why Iran’s claim has no merit in the next phase of this case,” spokesman Ned Price said.
It could also be months or even years away from a definitive decision on sanctions by the ICJ, set up after World War II to decide on conflicts between UN member states.
In exchange for an end to years of isolation by the West, the 2015 nuclear agreement saw Tehran curb its nuclear forces and let in foreign inspectors.
The 1955 “Treaty of Amity,” which predates the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the pro-US shah and broke relations with Washington, was invoked by Iran after Trump pulled out.
“Iran said “hardship and misery” were caused by the reimposition of sanctions and was “ruining millions of lives.
Rouhani rejects changes
Since the ICJ directed the US in 2018 to relax sanctions on humanitarian goods as an emergency measure until the overall litigation is dealt with, it is the second victory for Iran in the event.
In addition, the same year, Washington officially abolished the Treaty of Amity.
“Another legal victory for Iran” was tweeted on Wednesday by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran has always entirely respected (international) law in its own right. “It’s high time for the US to live up to its obligations,” Zarif said.
Since Trump pulled out, the 2015 nuclear pact involving the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany, has been hanging by a thread.
Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ruled out modifications to the nuclear pact and rejected demands to extend the terms of the contract and to cover regional countries.
New US President Joe Biden has expressed support for the return to the deal, but insisted that Tehran must first resume full compliance by reversing the measures it took to protest his predecessor’s sweeping sanctions.
The Biden administration claims that the actions of Trump backfired badly, with Iran both moving away from the nuclear deal and only stepping up its opposition to US interests.
On Monday, Zarif asked the European Union to assist in coordinating the return of the nuclear deal.