United Nations’ Court Orders The Trump Administration to Lift Iranian Sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo speaks at the State Department in Washington

The ICJ, ruling from the Hague, said in a preliminary decision that the USA must "remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from" sanctions that affect exports to Iran of medicine, medical devices, food, agricultural commodities and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation. Hoekstra, like Pompeo, also noted that the court "declined.to grant the sweeping measures requested by Iran" and instead "issued a narrow decision on a very limited range of sectors".

The court action brought by Iran was part of a drive on several fronts to isolate Washington, following the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 accord which lifted sanctions in return for constraints on Iran's nuclear programme.

In their ruling, the 15-strong panel of judges unanimously dismissed USA objections that the court had no jurisdiction.

"Any dispute between the High Contracting Parties as to the interpretation or application of the present treaty, not satisfactorily adjusted by diplomacy shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice, unless the High Contracting Parties agree to settlement by some other pacific means".

During his announcement at the State Department on Wednesday, Pompeo said with a chuckle, "This is a decision, frankly, that is 39 years overdue", an apparent reference to the 1979 Iranian revolution in which the us -backed Shah was overthrown. The U.S. had argued that the sanctions can not be challenged at the ICJ because it is a matter of national security.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif hailed the ruling as "another failure for the sanctions-addicted us government and a victory for the rule of law". The ICJ's rulings are binding, but the tribunal has no power to enforce them.

Iran dragged the United States to the ICJ in July, and during four days of hearings in late August, its lawyers accused Washington of "strangling" its economy.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praised Europe on Wednesday for taking a "big step" toward maintaining business with Iran after the unilateral USA withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposition of new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also told the BBC on Wednesday that support from Europe to preserve economic ties with the Islamic Republic in the face of US pressure was "better than expected". Last month, Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, denounced the International Criminal Court - a separate and unrelated institution based just a few kilometers (miles) away from the International Court of Justice.

That pact saw sanctions against Tehran lifted in return for it accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

Why else would Iran need mechanical items? The administration has admonished Iran and the regime's leadership for its "malign behavior" and for pursuing nuclear ambitions.

Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faced off at the United Nations in September, with Rouhani denouncing leaders with "xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition".

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in NY, U.S., September 26, 2018. Tehran hailed the decision, calling it a victory over Washington.

"This is a decision, frankly, that is 39 years overdue", Pompeo said at a Washington news conference.

No date has been set for further hearings in the case.

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