UN's International Court of Justice directs US to lift some Iran sanctions
03 October 2018
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Hague has directed the United States to lift sanctions on Iran linked to humanitarian concerns, in a move welcomed by Tehran.
The United Nations' top court issued an interim order directing the United States to lift sanctions linked to humanitarian goods and civil aviation imposed against Iran.
"On humanitarian grounds, the US must remove by means of its choosing any impediment to the free exportation to Iran of goods involving humanitarian concerns," the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said in its ruling on Wednesday.
Even though this court's rulings cannot be appealed and they are binding, there is no way to enforce it, especially since the US has left the court.
"The decision proved once again that the Islamic Republic is right and the US sanctions against people and citizens of our country are illegal and cruel," Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Tehran had urged the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to order Washington to suspend the sanctions temporarily while it hears Iran's case in full, a process that could take years.
While Iran's real quarrel is over President Trump's plan to pull out of a 2015 landmark agreement between Iran, the US and five world powers, Tehran had argued that the sanctions imposed since May by US President Donald Trump's administration violated the terms of their 1955 Treaty of Amity.
Washington says that Iran's request is an attempt to misuse the court. Iran has invoked a little known 1955 Treaty of Amity that was signed before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which caused a sharp deterioration in bilateral ties that has endured until today.
US State Department Legal Adviser Jennifer Newstead argued during oral hearings last month that the 1955 treaty specifically rules out using courts to resolve disputes.
The Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran in May and announced unilateral plans to restore sanctions against Tehran.
The US move has been opposed by other major powers, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Germany and the European Union, which helped negotiate the deal.
Iran says the US sanctions, which have prompted many foreign companies to stop doing business with it and are undermining its already weak economy, violate the terms of the 1955 treaty.
Last month, the EU decided to set up a new mechanism to enable legal trade with Iran without encountering US sanctions.
Despite international criticism, Washington is pushing ahead with a new series of sanctions, due to go into effect on 4 November.