The International Court of Justice ruled Thursday that the United States violated international law by freezing some Iranian assets, ordering Washington to pay compensation in an amount to be determined at a later date.
The Hague, however, rejected Iran’s offer to unblock nearly $2bn in assets belonging to its central bank that had been frozen by the United States because of alleged terror attacks.
Iran said on Thursday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had shown the legitimacy of its position and the “illegal” behavior of the United States.
“The verdict of the International Court of Justice given on March 30 shows once again the legitimacy of” Iran’s position “and the illegal behavior of the United States,” Tehran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ruling comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. Last week, a US contractor was killed and five Americans injured by a drone attack on a base in northeastern Syria that the US claimed was “of Iranian origin”.
Stay informed with MEE newsletters
Sign up to receive the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked
The United States responded with airstrikes against positions linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria, prompting Iranian-backed militias to launch rocket and drone attacks on US coalition targets in northeastern Syria .
Indirect talks between the United States and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have all but collapsed. The former Trump Administration unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
Recently, ties between Iran and the West have soured over Iran’s military support for Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and Tehran’s violent crackdown on protesters.
The ICJ case began in 2016 with Iran alleging that the United States violated the 1955 friendship treaty by allowing US courts to freeze the assets of Iranian companies. The United States said the money was to be given as compensation to the victims of the terrorist attacks.
Washington told the court that its move was justified based on Iran’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism, a defense dismissed by The Hague, ruling that the decades-old treaty was still valid.
At the time of the treaty, Iran was a regional ally of the US. In 1979, the Islamic Republic came to power after the overthrow of the US-backed Shah and the severing of ties between the two countries.
Although the court struck down Washington’s defense, it said the court did not have jurisdiction over the roughly $2bn in frozen central bank assets because the friendship treaty only protected commercial enterprises. ICJ court rulings are binding under international law, but the court has no way of enforcing them.