United Nations’ Court Orders The Trump Administration to Lift Iranian Sanctions

President Trump shows a document which he signed in May to pull US out of the Iran deal which put curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting of sanctions. — File  AFP

President Trump shows a document which he signed in May to pull US out of the Iran deal which put curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting of sanctions. — File AFP

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered the U.S. to ease sanctions it re-imposed on Iran after pulling out a nuclear deal previous year.

The Trump administration argued US sanctions specifically exempt food and medical supplies, Iran abused the court for political purposes by filing its complaint, the 1955 treaty referenced by the ICJ specifically prohibited this type of court ruling, and the treaty was signed with an Iranian government that ceased to exist in the 1979 Islamist revolution.

The ruling earlier in the day by the Hague-based court had stated USA assurances that the sanctions would not negatively impact humanitarian aid and aviation safety "were not adequate".

The court action brought by Iran was part of a drive on several fronts to isolate Washington, following the USA withdrawal from the 2015 accord which lifted sanctions in return for constraints on Iran's nuclear programme.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the court's ruling over Twitter, calling it "another failure for sanctions-addicted [United States government] and victory for rule of law".

He then announced the USA would terminate the Amity treaty which formed the basis of Iran's suit against the U.S.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also told the BBC on Wednesday that support from Europe to preserve economic ties with the Islamic Republic in the face of US pressure was "better than expected".

Zarif added he was confident the European Union, China, and Russian Federation would be able to help Iran evade the worst effects of the tougher round of USA sanctions scheduled to take effect in November.

Despite worldwide criticism, Washington is pushing ahead with the measures.

The ICJ has ruled previously that the 1955 treaty is valid even though it was signed before the 1979 Revolution in Iran, which saw the US-backed shah overthrown and heralded four decades of hostility between the two countries.

Iran alleges that the sanctions breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity that regulates and promotes economic and consular ties between the two countries.

With the President pulling out of the Iran nuclear accord earlier this year, sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation are scheduled to go into effect next month.

Washington says that Iran's request is an attempt to misuse the court.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice "once again shows that the U.S. government... is day by day becoming more isolated", the ministry said in a statement.

There was no immediate reaction from the United States, but Trump has previously shown his disdain for overarching worldwide organisations that limit U.S. sovereignty, including the UN. The court is the primary judicial arm of the United Nations.

The 2015 nuclear deal saw Iran agree to limit its nuclear programme and let in global inspectors in return for an end to years of sanctions by the West.

Foundation for Defense Democracies senior adviser Richard Goldberg told USA Today, "U.S. sanctions already have a humanitarian exemption for food, medicine and agriculture commodities - an exemption mullahs often use to make money on the black market while denying the Iranian people access to humanitarian goods". The administration has admonished Iran and the regime's leadership for its "malign behavior" and for pursuing nuclear ambitions.

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