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Iran Lodges Complaint Against U.S. Over Sanctions

by AFP

Behrouz Mehri—AFP

Case filed with International Court of Justice argues latest sanctions violate a decades-old treaty between Tehran, Washington

Iran has called on the U.N.’s top court to order the United States to immediately lift sanctions re-imposed by President Donald Trump in May claiming they are causing “irreparable prejudice,” the tribunal said on Tuesday.

Tehran filed its case with the International Court of Justice on Monday arguing that the renewed sanctions, which had been lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal, violate a decades-old treaty between the two old foes.

“Iran maintains that its application relates to the decision of the United States of 8 May 2018 ‘to re-impose in full effect and enforce’ sanctions and restrictive measures targeting, directly or indirectly, Iran and Iranian companies and/or nationals,” the ICJ said in a statement.

Through the sanctions the U.S. “has violated and continues to violate multiple provisions” of a 1955 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, which was concluded before the Islamic revolution under the regime of the shah.

Over the objections of allies, Trump in May pulled the United States from the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015. He re-imposed U.S. sanctions that had been suspended in return for controls on Tehran’s nuclear program, effectively barring many multinational firms from doing business in Iran.

The goal of turning to the ICJ is “to hold [the] U.S. accountable for its unlawful re-imposition of unilateral sanctions,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote earlier in the day on Twitter. “Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of U.S. contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations. It’s imperative to counter its habit of violating [international] law,” he added.

Iran and the U.S. have not had diplomatic relations since 1980, when American embassy officials were held hostage in Tehran.

Nuclear-related sanctions will be re-imposed by Washington in two phases in August and November, seeking to bar European and other foreign companies from doing business with Iran and blocking its oil sales abroad.

Iran and the other signatories to the 2015 agreement have been scrambling to preserve the limited trade deals they were able to secure since it was signed.

Zarif addressed world diplomats and Iranian businessmen at a lavish Tehran hotel on Monday night, in a meeting designed as a show of continued mutual support in the face of the U.S. move. “This administration in the United States doesn’t know how to behave towards the world… it breaks international treaties as a tool. It is necessary to put a stop to this behavior,” Zarif said.

Austrian ambassador Stefan Scholz, whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union, said “unorthodox and innovative measures” were being considered to allow banking transactions to continue after U.S. sanctions return. “We are all in this together, since the E.U. is facing a net loss of 10 billion euros in lost trade with Iran next year,” Scholz said.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between countries. It is unclear whether Iran’s latest case will be taken up by the judges in The Hague.

Four days of hearings into an earlier complaint lodged by Iran in October 2016 against the U.S. for freezing around $2 billion of its assets abroad are due to start on Oct. 8 when the United States will argue the court has no authority to hear the case.

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