Iran bid to recover funds frozen in U.S. can proceed

14 Février, 2019, 05:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • In 2018 the ICJ court ruled that the US must lift sanctions on humanitarian goods to Iran

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has affirmed its jurisdiction to hear a case brought by Iran to recover billions of dollars in assets that are frozen in the United States.

Washington had argued that Iran's "unclean hands" - a reference to Tehran's suspected backing of terror groups - should disqualify its lawsuit to recover $2 billion in assets frozen by the US Supreme Court in 2016.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the money frozen by the United States should go to the survivors and families of victims of terrorist attacks attributed to Iran.

Chief judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the UN's top court "unanimously rejects the preliminary objections to admissibility raised by the United States of America".

Iran said the U.S. decision breached 1955 Treaty of Amity with the United States, an agreement signed before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution severed relations between the countries.

The attack at the heart of the case was a suicide truck bombing of a USA marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 that killed 241 military personnel and wounded many more. It includes a clause that sends unresolved disputes about interpretation of the treaty to the world court. Its rulings are binding and can not be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

The United States announced hours after that decision it was pulling out of the Treaty of Amity, upon which Iran had also based the sanctions case. Tehran is seeking to regain funds that were impounded during the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

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Iran has argued that sanctions imposed in May by the administration of US President Donald Trump also violate terms of the 1955 Amity Treaty.

"Iran must not be permitted to continue to misuse the International Court of Justice's judicial process for political and propaganda purposes", State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Palladino said on Wednesday.

The court ruling was in response to a motion by the United States for the court to throw out the claim by Iran to recover some $2 billion in bank assets seized by US courts.

The timing of the U.S. court ruling had been particularly sensitive as it was just a year after the landmark nuclear deal with world powers which led to the unblocking of other frozen funds.

But he added that "even if it were shown that (Iran's) conduct was not beyond reproach, this would not be sufficient" on its own to throw out the case.

The court will hold further hearings on the case.

In 2018, Iran won a legal victory when the ICJ ruled the USA must lift sanctions against Tehran targeting humanitarian goods such as food and medicine.

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