International Court of Justice - ICJ

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Iran is facing off with the United States of America at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a case over the US freezing of Iranian assets, shortly after Tehran beat Washington at the same court in a different case.

Court hearings were to start Monday with “Preliminary Objections” by the US, which seeks to argue that the ICJ does not have the jurisdiction to take up the case, according to the court’s schedule.

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Iran filed a complaint with the ICJ — the principal judicial organ of the United Nations — on June 14, 2016 over the freezing of billions of dollars in its assets either inside or outside of America under US court rulings.

The latest instance of such rulings occurred on April 20, 2016, when the US Supreme Court upheld an earlier verdict by a lower district court to turn over approximately 1.75 billion dollars in frozen Iranian assets to victims of “terrorism.”

The Iranian complaint invoked the “Treaty of Amity,” signed between Iran and America in 1955. According to the complaint, Iranian assets had, under the treaty, been held “in a custodial ‘omnibus account’ with Citibank N. A. in New York by the Luxembourg-based international central securities depository Clearstream Banking S.A. to the ultimate benefit of Bank Markazi” or Iran’s Central Bank.

The 15-member jury court of the ICJ — also known as the World Court — will hear Iran’s oral arguments on Wednesday.

A second round of hearings for Iran and the US is scheduled for October 11 and 12.

Once ‘beaten,’ twice not shy — yet?
The Monday hearings come less than a week after the US was handed a defeat at the ICJ in a separate case filed by Iran over the re-imposition of US sanctions that had also invoked the “Treaty of Amity.”

The ICJ issued an interim ruling according to which the US “shall remove… any impediments arising from the measures announced on May 8 to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities” as well as airplane parts.

May 8 was when the US unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral deal with Iran and imposed previous as well as new sanctions on the country.

Rulings by the ICJ are legally binding.

Humiliated after that defeat at the World Court, and in a knee-jerk reaction, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would be scrapping the 1955 treaty.

National Security Adviser John Bolton also said the US would no more be recognizing the jurisdiction of the UN court and would be withdrawing from the 1961 Optional Protocol and Dispute Resolution of the Vienna Convention, which established the ICJ.

Despite the assertions by Pompeo and Bolton, America has sent a legal team to the ICJ.

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