The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered the United States to pay compensation to Iranian companies after ruling that Washington had illegally allowed courts to freeze their assets.
Anyhow the rulings of ICJ are binding, but the court has no means of enforcing them. The US and Iran have disregarded its decisions in the past.
The court did not specify the exact amount in its ruling on Thursday but said it would be determined in a later phase.
The tribunal in The Hague said it did not have jurisdiction over $1.75bn in frozen assets from Iran’s central bank held in a Citibank account in New York, by far the largest amount claimed back by Tehran.
ICJ Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian said the majority “upholds the objection to jurisdiction raised by the United States of America relating to the claims of the Islamic Republic of Iran” regarding the bank.
The case was initially brought by Tehran against Washington in 2016 for allegedly breaching a 1955 friendship treaty. The US argued the case should be dismissed because Iran has “unclean hands” and the asset seizures were the result of its alleged sponsoring of “terrorism”.
The US also imposed that the money was to be given in compensation to victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks linked to Iran.
The court on Thursday dismissed this defence entirely and ruled the treaty – signed long before Iran’s 1979 revolution – was valid.
The toppling of the US-backed shah and the establishment of the new government after the revolution severed US-Iranian relations and Washington withdrew from the treaty in 2018.