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UN high court: Lift U.S. sanctions on Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington on Wednesday.  Credit: EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock / Michael Reynolds

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The United Nations' highest court on Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to civil aviation safety.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice is legally binding, but the Trump administration said the United States was terminating a decades-old treaty that Iran used as the basis for its case.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said withdrawing from the 1955 Treaty of Amity was long overdue and followed Iran "groundlessly" bringing the complaint to the UN court.

Pompeo said the administration would proceed with sanctions enforcement with existing exceptions for humanitarian and flight safety transactions.

"The United States has been actively engaged on these issues without regard to any proceeding before the ICJ," he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the administration also was pulling out of an amendment to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that Iran or others, notably the Palestinians, could use to sue the United States at The Hague-based tribunal.

“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” Bolton said. He cited a case brought to the court by the “so-called state of Palestine” challenging the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the main reason for withdrawing.

President Donald Trump moved to restore tough U.S. sanctions against Iran in May after withdrawing from Tehran's nuclear accord with world powers. Iran challenged the sanctions in a case filed in July at the International Court of Justice.

In a preliminary ruling, the court said Washington must "remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from" the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation.  

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