In a partial victory for Iran, judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Thursday that Washington had illegally allowed the courts to freeze the assets of Iranian companies and ordered the United States to pay compensation, the amount to be determined later. , Reuters reports.
However, in a blow to Tehran, the World Court said it did not have jurisdiction over $1.75 billion in frozen assets from the Central Bank of Iran, the largest amount ever claimed by Iran.
The ruling comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran following tit-for-tat strikes between Iranian-backed forces and US personnel in Syria last week.
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Relations have also been strained by the stalling of efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers, and by Russia’s use of Iranian drones against Ukraine.
Tehran first brought the case before the ICJ, also known as the World Court, against Washington in 2016 for allegedly violating the 1955 friendship treaty by allowing US courts to freeze the assets of Iranian companies. The money was to be given as compensation to the victims of the terrorist attacks.
In last year’s hearings, the United States argued that the entire case should be dismissed because Iran has “unclean hands” and that the asset seizures were the result of Tehran’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism. The Court rejected this defense entirely and ruled that the contract was valid.
The Islamic Republic denies supporting international terrorism.
The friendship treaty of the 1950s was signed long before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the US-backed Shah, and subsequent US-Iranian relations.
Washington finally withdrew from the treaty in 2018. However, the ICJ ruled that because it was in effect at the time the assets of Iranian companies and commercial entities were frozen, Washington violated the treaty.
The judges explained that the Court had no jurisdiction over the $1.75 billion in assets from the Central Bank of Iran held by the US because that bank was not a commercial enterprise, and therefore was not protected by the treaty.
The rulings of the ICJ, the United Nations High Court, are binding, but it has no way of enforcing them.
The United States and Iran are among the handful of countries that have ignored their decisions in the past.
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