US rejects Iran sanctions court ruling

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was ending a 63-year friendship treaty with Iran

Judges enter the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, where they ruled on an Iranian request to order Washington to suspend U.S. sanctions against Tehran. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The United States on Wednesday rebuffed the UN’s highest court after it was ordered to lift sanctions for humanitarian supplies to Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to the ruling by pulling out of a 63-year-old treaty with Iran that underpinned the legal case and promised “enduring peace and sincere friendship” between the two countries.

He said that the UN court's ruling just a month before the US reimposes sanctions on the Iranian regime marked a useful moment to demonstrate the “absolute absurdity” of a treaty that pre-dated the 1979 Revolution.

“We will see what the practical fallout is,” he told a news conference in Washington DC. “The Iranians have been ignoring it for an awfully long time.”


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The robust US response came after Iran secured a partial victory at the International Court of Justice in a legal challenge to Donald Trump’s move in May to restore sanctions on the regime. Iran had claimed that the sanctions breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity that also promoted economic and consular ties.

In a preliminary ruling, the courts said that Washington must not reimpose sanctions on medicines, food and spare parts for civil aircraft. The ruling did not go as far as Iran has requested.

Iran had still claimed victory with foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praising the ruling on Twitter as a “victory for rule of law”. The rulings of the court are binding but the court has no powers to enforce its decisions.

Announcing his plan to end the 1955 treaty on Wednesday, Mr Pompeo said it should have been scrapped decades ago. Diplomatic ties were cut following the 1979 Revolution and the takeover of the US embassy.

The snubbing of the UN court is the latest rejection of multilateral institutions by the United States. National security adviser John Bolton said last month that the international criminal court (ICC), also based in the Hague and set up to try people accused of human rights atrocities, was “already dead to us”.