Iran fights United States sanctions at UN court

US slams EU’s $20mn development aid to Iran as sending ‘wrong message at the wrong time

Members of the International Court of Justice attend a hearing for alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between Iran and the US, at the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands August 27, 2018.

"The U.S.is publicly propagating a policy meant to damage as severely as possible Iran's economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals", Mohsen Mohebi, an attorney representing Iran, told the court.

Iranian representative Mohsen Mohebi told the court the US decision was a clear breach of the 1955 treaty as it was "intended to damage, as severely as possible, Iran's economy".

Under the deal, Iran reined in its nuclear programme under United Nations monitoring and won the removal of devastating worldwide sanctions in return.

In oral arguments in The Hague, Iran's representative Mohsen Mohebi accused Washington of plotting his country's "economic strangulation".

It said the sanctions would cause it "irreparable prejudice".

"But this case is unusual as it is a wholesale attack on global law grounds, on the current snapback of USA sanctions against Iran", she said. But Mr Trump reimposed unilateral sanctions three weeks ago.

The ICJ is the United Nations tribunal for resolving global disputes. The deal, which dealt with halting the nation's creation of nuclear weapons, also allowed for the lifting of economic sanctions that had largely prevented trade with the west in years prior. A final decision in the case may take years.

Business and leisure travel to Iran picked up in the wake of a 2015 Iran nuclear deal aka Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that saw some sanctions relaxed in return for Tehran agreeing to curb its nuclear program. He said they were needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb and to address its continuing missile programme and support for terrorism.

Pompeo said lawyers would "vigorously defend" the USA and "and we will continue to work with our allies to counter the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran's proliferation of ballistic missiles and other advanced weapons systems that threaten global peace and stability".

Iran has called on the other parties to the nuclear deal to resist USA pressure to isolate Iran.

Iran's currency the rial has lost around half its value since April.

European companies including France's Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany's Siemens and Daimler, have suspended operations in Iran after the USA withdrew from the nuclear deal.

Air France and Dutch sibling KLM will halt flights by the end of September due to "weak commercial results", the group said Thursday.

The flagship airlines did not put the blame on the return of US sanctions directly for their decisions but said that the route is "not commercially viable".

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei this month appeared to rule out any immediate prospect of talks, saying "there will be neither war nor negotiations" with the US.

However, diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and takeover of the U.S. Embassy and ensuing hostage crisis.

The U.S. previously said it does not acknowledge the court's jurisdiction regarding the case.

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