Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 1 News List

International court orders US to lift Iran sanctions

The Guardian

Judges enter the International Court of Justice yesterday in The Hague, Netherlands.

Photo: AP

The UN’s International Court of Justice has reprimanded the US over its reimposition of sanctions on Iran, ordering Washington to lift restrictive measures linked to humanitarian trade, food, medicine and civil aviation.

The Hague ruling delivered yesterday morning is a victory for Iran after it complained to the court in July that the return to sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump following the US’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement contravened the Treaty of Amity, a 1955 pre-revolutionary friendship treaty.

Iran also said that the US had breached the terms of the accord by unilaterally withdrawing.

Iran’s lawyers said at the court hearing in August that the sanctions were blanket measures that had strangled the Iranian economy, affecting ordinary citizens in all aspects of their lives.

The ruling, classified as a “provisional measure” before a final verdict that could take years to be issued, was given unanimously.

It is binding and cannot be appealed, but the court has no means of enforcing it.

It is too early to assess what the ruling’s impact will be, given the EU’s backing for the nuclear accord, but the ruling puts on the record that the reimposition of sanctions is viewed as illegal by the international community.

“The court considers that the United States, in accordance with its obligations under the 1955 treaty, must remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures” relating to humanitarian needs, medicines, foodstuff and agricultural commodities and civil aviation, the ruling said.

The court ordered both parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate or extend the dispute.

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the ruling was “another failure for sanctions-addicted USG [US government] and victory for rule of law. Imperative for int’l community to collectively counter malign US unilateralism.”

Zarif said in a BBC interview ahead of the ruling that the US was driven by a policy of regime change and listened to the wrong people.

“The economic warfare that the United States and some of its regional clients are conducting against Iran is psychological warfare more than real economic warfare,” he said.

The EU, Iran, China and Russia have set out a mechanism to sidestep US sanctions.

Zarif said the next step, which is “the most difficult and important,” is to see whether those mechanisms work.

“We are going to be a little bit more patient, but it doesn’t mean that our patience will never run out,” he said.

Asked about Trump’s offer to hold a summit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Zarif did not rule out the possibility.

“Nothing is impossible. The outcome would be a photo opportunity and a two-page document,” he said, referring to the document signed in the summer by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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