Iran will plead its case Monday before the UN’s highest jurisdiction to recover nearly $2 billion in assets frozen in the United States, which hopes to use the funds to help victims of attacks blamed on Tehran.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, is holding its first hearings on the matter this week while the endless nuclear negotiations with Iran are deadlocked.
The Islamic Republic initiated this process in mid-2016 to secure the release of its funds after the US Supreme Court just approved their seizure.
A US court previously ruled that those sums should be blocked to compensate American victims of terrorist attacks, a practice Iran considers illegal.
The sums were sought from thousands of victims and families of victims of attacks sponsored or aided by Iran, according to US justice.
In particular, among them are those close to the 241 US soldiers who were killed on October 23, 1983 in two suicide bombings that affected the American and French contingents of the multinational security forces in Beirut.
But in the ICJ lawsuit, Iran argues that the United States violated a bilateral treaty signed by the Shah of Iran with the US government in 1955 covering economic relations and consular rights.
This treaty was signed before the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, which marked the end of diplomatic relations with the United States.
In 2019, the ICJ declared itself competent in the case, dismissing a lawsuit from Washington that believed Iran’s hands were stained by its alleged ties to terrorism.
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This is not the first time the United States has seen these arguments refuted by the ICJ. Following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, case law had ordered the Trump administration to end new sanctions against Iran by targeting the goods for humanitarian purposes.
Shortly thereafter, the United States announced that it would withdraw from the 1955 Treaty of Friendship, which the Court cited to justify its decision.
The decisions of the International Court of Justice, the main legal body of the United Nations, must be applied and cannot be appealed. However, the Court has no means of enforcing them.
The Iranian asset freeze hearings come as nuclear talks with Iran have stalled and no breakthrough is expected in the short term, according to European diplomat Josep Borrell.
Since April 2021, Iran has been participating in EU-brokered negotiations to renegotiate the 2015 agreement reached with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the cancellation of Iran’s nuclear program revitalize international sanctions. .
A final text was proposed by Josep Borrell on August 8th. The compromise is intended to make it easier for Iran to meet its commitments under the agreement again and for the US to come back to them.