THE HAGUE, Netherlands
Iran warned Monday that re-imposed U.S. sanctions would cripple its economy and plunge the volatile Middle East deeper into crisis as it urged the United Nations’ highest court to suspend the Trump administration’s economic pressure on Tehran.
In a written statement about the case at the International Court of Justice, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iran’s claims “meritless” and defended the sanctions as a way of keeping Americans safe.
The world court’s wood-paneled Great Hall of Justice in The Hague is the latest backdrop for Washington and Tehran’s high-stakes dispute about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
President Donald Trump said in May that he would pull the U.S. out of a 2015 agreement over Iran’s nuclear program and would re-impose sanctions on Tehran. Washington also threatened other countries with sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian oil imports by early November.
Iran filed a case with the court in July challenging the re-imposition. Tehran 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.
The treaty was signed when the U.S. and Iran were still allies following the 1953 revolution – fomented by Britain and the U.S. – that ultimately cemented the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
However, diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and takeover of the U.S. Embassy and ensuing hostage crisis. Despite that dramatic deterioration in relations, the treaty remains in force.
Iran and the U.S. have a history of litigation at the International Court of Justice, in cases covering crises including the embassy seizure and the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet mistaken by a U.S. warship for a fighter jet.
Rulings by the world court, which settles disputes between nations, are final and legally binding. However, it remains to be seen if the U.S. would abide by a court order to suspend sanctions on Iran.