AMSTERDAM — Iran has filed a lawsuit against the United States alleging that Washington’s decision in May to impose sanctions after pulling out of a nuclear deal violates a 1955 treaty between the two countries, the International Court of Justice said on Tuesday.
A State Department official said the application was without merit and the United States would fight it in the court.
“While we cannot comment on the specifics, Iran’s application is baseless and we intend to vigorously defend the United States before the ICJ,” a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
The ICJ, which is based in The Hague and is also known as the World Court, is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes. Iran’s filing asks the ICJ to order the United States to provisionally lift its sanctions ahead of more detailed arguments.
“Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of U.S. contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Monday, referring to Tehran’s lawsuit at the ICJ.
Iran said in its filing that Trump’s move “has violated and continued to violate multiple provisions” of the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, signed long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the U.S.-allied shah and triggered decades of hostile relations with Washington.
The next step in Iran’s new lawsuit will be a hearing in which the United States is likely to contest whether it merits a provisional ruling. The court has not yet set a date, but hearings on requests for provisional rulings usually are heard within several weeks, with a decision coming within months.
Although the ICJ is the highest United Nations court and its decisions are binding, it has no power to enforce them, and countries – including the United States – have occasionally ignored them.
The specter of new U.S. sanctions, particularly those meant to block oil exports that are the lifeline of Iran’s economy, has caused a rapid fall in the Iranian currency and triggered street protests over fears economic hardships will soon worsen.
Iran has said both are non-negotiable, and the other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal including major European allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China, remain committed to it.