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UN Court Urged to Halt US Economic Aggression

The US is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy, its national companies and by extension the people of Iran
Mohsen Mohebi (L) representative of Iran is pictured during the opening of case between Iran and the United States at the The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, August 27.Mohsen Mohebi (L) representative of Iran is pictured during the opening of case between Iran and the United States at the The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, August 27.

Iran has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to lift the illegal sanctions imposed by the US after Donald Trump abandoned the landmark nuclear agreement.

Iranian lawyer Mohsen Mohebi said the US seeks to damage Iran's economy "as severely as possible" and had violated a little-known 1955 friendship treaty, the BBC reported.

"The US is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran's economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals," Mohebi told the court on Monday.

"This policy is nothing but naked economic aggression against my country."

The lawsuit filed with the ICJ, also known as the World Court, says the US sanctions, which are damaging its already weak economy, violate terms of a little-known 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries. The United States, which will respond formally in oral arguments on Tuesday, has yet to issue a public response.

 Court Jurisdiction Challenged

US lawyers are expected to argue that the United Nations court should not have jurisdiction in the dispute, that the friendship treaty is no longer valid and that the sanctions Washington has imposed on Tehran do not violate it anyway.

The oral hearings, essentially a request by Iran for a provisional ruling, will last for four days, with a decision to follow within a month.

The ICJ is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes. Its rulings are binding, but it has no power to enforce them and on rare occasions they have been ignored by some countries, including the United States, according to Reuters.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, with his administration then announcing unilateral plans to restore sanctions against Tehran.

Under the 2015 deal, which Trump sees as flawed, Iran reined in its nuclear program under UN monitoring and won a removal of international sanctions in return. Although the US’ European allies have protested against Trump’s move, most western companies intend to adhere to the sanctions, preferring to lose business in Iran than be punished by the US or be barred from doing business there.

  Hurting Economy

Tehran says that the new sanctions are already hurting its economy. And its currency, the rial, has lost around half its value since April.

A raft of international companies -- including France's Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany's Siemens and Daimler -- have already suspended operations in Iran in the wake of the US move.

Washington "is besieging Iran economically, with all the dramatic consequences that a siege implies for the besieged population," Tehran said in court papers. Iran "requests that, pending final judgment in the case, the court indicate... that the USA shall immediately take all measures at its disposal to ensure the suspension of the implementation of all the May 8 sanctions," it said.

The ICJ has so far ruled that the 1955 treaty is still valid, even though it was signed long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that triggered decades of hostile relations with Washington.

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