Iran urges UN court to halt US sanctions

The Hague, Monday

Iran on Monday demanded the UN’s top court suspend US nuclear-linked sanctions against Tehran, accusing Washington of plotting its “economic strangulation”.

The Islamic Republic launched a suit at the International Court of Justice over US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose the sanctions that had been lifted in a 2015 accord.

Iran says Trump’s move breaches a 1955 treaty.

Trump says the sanctions are needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb. But Iran’s representative Mohsen Mohebi branded them “naked economic aggression”.

His team of lawyers told the court in The Hague the measures were already devastating Iran’s economy and threatening the welfare of its citizens.

“The United States is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian nationals and companies,” Mohebi said.

“Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the US economic strangulation, by all peaceful means.”

The US measures have added to Iran’s economic woes, fuelling strikes and protests across the country and political spectrum.

The sanctions target financial transactions and imports of raw materials, cars and aircraft among other things.

A second wave of punitive measures is due to hit Iran in early November, targeting its vital energy sector including oil exports.

Iran’s lawyers said the sanctions would cause it “irreparable prejudice”. They urged the court to order the suspension of the sanctions pending a definitive ruling.

British lawyer Samuel Wordsworth, for Iran, told the court the sanctions were threatening Iranians’ access to medicines as well as disrupting business deals.

The ICJ is expected to take a couple of months to decide whether to grant Tehran’s request for a provisional ruling. A final decision could take years.

But the US said it would “vigorously defend” itself in the ICJ, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.

“We will vigorously defend against Iran’s meritless claims this week in The Hague,” said Pompeo.

The 2015 deal was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Sanctions were lifted in return for Iran committing not to pursue nuclear weapons. -AFP

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