United Nations court has jurisdiction to hear part of Iran-US dispute

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 14, 2019

February 13 (UPI) - The International Court of Justice ruled Wednesday it has jurisdiction to consider a request by the Iranian government to thaw $2 billion worth of assets frozen by the United States for past crimes attributed to Tehran.

Judges rejected USA claims the case should be thrown out because Iran had "unclean hands" from alleged links to "terrorism", and the global tribunal in The Hague did not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit.

The US Supreme Court awarded the money to victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks linked to Iran.

The court's 15-judge panel "unanimously finds that it has jurisdiction.to rule on the application filed by the Islamic Republic of Iran", presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said in a reading of the decision.

Iran said the U.S. decision breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity with the United States, an agreement signed before Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution severed relations between the former allies.

"Iran's goal is to prevent United States victims of the Iranian regime's wanton acts of terrorism... from recovering compensation from Iran in U.S. courts", Palladino said. It includes a clause that sends unresolved disputes about interpretation of the treaty to the world court.

The ruling may also have implications for a second case at the court in which Iran is contesting USA sanctions against Tehran.

The United States announced hours after that decision it was pulling out of the Treaty of Amity, upon which Iran had also based the sanctions case.

He also said the fact that the United States had now pulled out of the amity treaty with Iran "has no effect on the jurisdiction of the court" and that it now needed to hold detailed hearings. Its rulings are binding and can not be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

Iran has argued that sanctions imposed in May by the administration of US President Donald Trump also violate terms of the 1955 Amity Treaty.

Earlier in the day, the International Court of Justice ruled that Iran's lawsuit against the United States over more than $2 billion in frozen assets was admissible.

In October, Richard Visek, a US State Department legal official, told the ICJ that "Iran comes to the court with unclean hands - indeed, it is a remarkable show of bad faith".

In 2018, Iran won a legal victory when the ICJ ruled the United States must lift sanctions against Tehran targeting humanitarian goods such as food and medicine.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had added at the time that "we owe it to our fallen heroes, their families, and the victims of Iran's terrorist activities to vigorously defend against the Iranian regime's meritless claims... in The Hague".

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