The US on Wednesday pulled out of two international agreements after Iran and Palestine filed complaints with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the US’ policies, the latest withdrawal by Washington from multilateral accords.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton slammed the highest UN tribunal as “politicized and ineffective” as he announced that the US would review all international agreements that could expose it to binding decisions by the ICJ.
Earlier on Wednesday, the ICJ handed a victory to Tehran, ordering the US to ensure that sanctions against Iran, which are due to be tightened next month, do not affect humanitarian aid or civil aviation safety.
Tehran had argued that the sanctions imposed by the US since May violated the terms of their 1955 Treaty of Amity.
Washington responded by pulling out of the treaty, a little-known agreement that was signed long before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which turned the two countries from allies into archenemies.
The court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, is the UN’s venue for resolving disputes between nations.
There have been mounting concerns among the US’ allies about the commitment of US President Donald Trump’s administration to multilateralism.
In the nearly two years since being elected, Trump has withdrawn the US from the nuclear framework agreement between six powers and Iran, pulled out of the Paris climate accord, left UNESCO and threatened NATO military allies that the US would “go its own way” if members would not spend more on defense.
Bolton, citing what he called “Iran’s abuse of the ICJ,” said that the US would also withdraw from the Optional Protocol to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes.
“We will commence a review of all international agreements that may still expose the United States to purported binding jurisdiction, dispute resolution in the International Court of Justice,” Bolton said on Wednesday. “The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us.”
The decision to withdraw from the optional protocol follows a complaint brought by Palestine last month, which challenged Washington’s decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Vienna Convention is an international treaty setting out diplomatic relations between states. It is often cited as a means to provide diplomatic immunity.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US should have pulled out of the Treaty of Amity with Iran decades ago and that the ICJ had no jurisdiction over sanctions that he said were essential to US security interests.
The US has adopted a hardline policy against Tehran, withdrawing from the nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions.
“Today marked a useful point, with the decision that was made this morning from the ICJ, this marked a useful point for us to demonstrate the absolute absurdity of the Treaty of Amity between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said.
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Javad Zarif criticized the US withdrawal on Twitter, calling the US government an “outlaw regime.”
In 2005, US President George W. Bush’s administration took issue with the ICJ after it ruled that the execution of a Mexican national in Texas breached US obligations under international law.
The Palestinians argued that the US government’s placement of its embassy in Jerusalem contravened an international treaty and that it should be moved.
“This really has less to do with Iran and the Palestinians than with the continued consistent policy of the United States to reject the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, which we think is politicized and ineffective,” Bolton said.
“I’d like to stress the United States remains a party to the underlying Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and we expect all other parties to abide by their international obligations under the convention,” he added.
Palestine was in 2012 recognized by the UN General Assembly as a non-member observer state, although its statehood is not recognized by either Israel or the US.
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