USA ordered to lift sanctions on 'humanitarian' goods

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Mohammad Javad Zarif praises European efforts to preserve the nuclear deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States is terminating the Treaty of Amity reached with Iran in pre-revolutionary days, calling it an "absolute absurdity" given the tensions between the two countries.

On Wednesday (Thursday NZT), the UN highest court ordered the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to civil aviation safety.

But Mr Trump said the deal had "failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb" and did not deal with Tehran's "malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism".

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered the U.S. to ease sanctions it re-imposed on Iran after pulling out a nuclear deal a year ago.

The treaty was signed long before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution which turned the two countries into arch foes.

"As you can see, Article 1 on the Treaty-'There shall be firm and enduring peace and honest friendship between the United States of America and Iran'-hasn't aged very well over the years", remarked Foreign Policy reporter Robbie Gramer.

Pompeo said his country had already taken measures to avoid harming Iran's humanitarian needs and that the ruling "categorically rejected all unfounded demands by Iran" to lift U.S. sanctions in a comprehensive way.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague will hand down its decision at 0800 GMT in a case which threatens to plunge relations between Washington and Tehran to a new low.

If the court decides it has jurisdiction, it will likely "declare that the parties should refrain from aggravating the dispute", but any steps beyond this remain to be seen, he said.

The Treaty of Amity was one of the last remaining USA vehicles through which it maintained normal relations with Iran.

He stressed that Iran is exploiting the International Court of Justice for political purposes. "Imperative for int'l community to collectively counter malign USA unilateralism", Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

The unanimous ruling from the International Court of Justice orders the US not to restrict money flowing between Iran and its trading partners for a list of products it says should be cleared for export to Iran, from medical devices and agricultural commodities to parts and equipment needed to safely maintain Iran's civil aviation.

While the ruling is legally binding, the court has no real enforcement powers and Washington already makes allowances for the trade of humanitarian goods. "It rightly rejected all of Iran's baseless requests", Pompeo told reporters.

The ruling came just a month before the Trump Administration plans to further isolate Iran from the world economy through another round of sanctions.

The U.S. announced on Friday it will effectively close its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra and relocate diplomatic personnel assigned there following increasing threats from Iran and Iran-backed militia, including rocket fire.

Yusuf added that if the United States does not lift the ban on airplane parts, there is a "potential to endanger civil aviation safety in Iran and the lives of its users".

The ICJ rules on disputes between United Nations member states.

This sets up another showdown between the ICJ and the US administration, which has already said the court has no jurisdiction over its foreign policy, especially concerning national security.

Trump's unilateral move has put it at odds with the other signatories to the deal, including Washington's close European allies Britain, France and Germany as well as Russian Federation and China.

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