The United States told UN judges Tuesday they had no jurisdiction to rule on Tehran’s demand for them to order the suspension of debilitating nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.
Washington cited security concerns in its first legal response to a suit by the Islamic Republic, which is suffering increasing economic chaos. Iran has argued that US President Donald Trump breached a 1955 treaty with his decision to reimpose the sanctions after withdrawing from a multilateral nuclear accord.
But US State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead told the International Court of Justice in The Hague that it “lacks prima facie jurisdiction to hear Iran’s claims”. She argued that the United States had the right to protect its national security and other interests.
The treaty “cannot therefore provide a basis for this court’s jurisdiction” in the case, she said.
Sanctions on Iran had been lifted under a 2015 accord with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. In return, Tehran made commitments not to seek to develop nuclear weapons.
Trump said the 2015 accord did not do enough to curb the threat from Iran.
He pulled out of the accord in May and began reimposing sanctions this month, alarming other signatories to the deal.
The ICJ is expected to take several weeks to decide whether to grant Tehran’s request for a provisional ruling. A final decision could take years. ICJ judgements are binding, final and without appeal.
However, whether any decision will be implemented remains unclear as both Iran and the US in the past have ignored ICJ rulings against them.