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US asks ICJ to dismiss Iran sanctions case
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US asks ICJ to dismiss Iran sanctions case

The US asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Monday to dismiss a case brought by Iran seeking to lift sanctions. The US argued that Iran improperly brought the case before the court, as the case’s subject matter does not fall within the Treaty of Amity and cannot be a violation.

The case, originally brought by Iran in 2018, alleges that the US sanctions against the country violate the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, known as the Treaty of Amity. The Treaty of Amity once operated as a “bilateral friendship agreement” between the two states, but in recent years has been forgone in light of escalating tensions.

In 2018 the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. In doing so, US President Donald Trump imposed additional sanctions on Iran such as freezing all Iranian assets that were in the control of the US and prohibiting all financial help from foreign and US financial institutions to Iran. Consequently, Iran filed a lawsuit with the ICJ on July 16, 2018, claiming the US actions were re-imposing nuclear sanctions, which was a violation of international obligations set forth in the Treaty of Amity.

In October 2018 the ICJ denounced the US’s actions and ordered it “to lift restrictive measures linked to humanitarian trade, food, medicine and civil aviation.” Instead, the US announced it was pulling out of the 1955 treaty and continued to impose additional sanctions on Iran. As such, Iran filed another lawsuit before the ICJ. The US actions were almost universally criticized, with the UN Security Council rejecting the US request to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

The US argues that the case should be dismissed because 1) the US no longer recognizes the Treaty of Amity (as evidenced by their withdrawal in 2018); and 2) the sanctions on Iran arise from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, not the Treaty of Amity.

The ICJ is the UN’s highest court for resolving disputes between nations. The ICJ’s rulings are binding but are not enforceable, and many countries have ignored its decisions.