U.S. Must Remove Iran Sanctions Targeting Humanitarian Aid and Safety, World Court Rules

The World Court at the United Nations has ordered that the United States remove sanctions that target humanitarian trade, food, medicine and civil aviation.

Iran viewed the Wednesday decision handed down by judges serving on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a victory, in a case the Islamic Republic brought citing a 1955 Treaty of Amity between Tehran and Washington. The suit argued that sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump in May violated the agreement's terms, which was signed prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded by saying the U.S. would simply end the treaty, Radio Free Europe reported. He also accused Tehran of "abusing" the ICJ.

Members of the International Court of Justice conduct a hearing on alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between Iran and the United States on August 27. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

Prior to Pompeo's announcement, Tehran hailed the court's ruling positively.

"The decision proved once again that the Islamic Republic is right and the U.S. sanctions against people and citizens of our country are illegal and cruel," Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement. "The United States must comply with its international commitments and lift obstacles to Iranian trade," it continued.

In its ruling, the Netherlands-based ICJ said that the U.S. is obligated under the terms of the treaty to "remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures" relating to medicines, humanitarian needs, foodstuff, agricultural commodities and civil aviation, according to The Guardian.

"To this end, the United States must ensure that licences and necessary authorisations are granted and that payments and other transfers of funds are not subject to any restriction in so far as they relate to the goods and services referred to above," it continued.

Although the court's decisions are considered internationally binding, the body has no authority to enforce its rulings. However, analysts pointed out that the decision could encourage some European companies to maintain ties with Iran despite threats from the U.S.

"The decision could encourage European companies, which ceased trading with Iran for fear of falling foul of President Trump, to reconsider their position, specifically those dealing in the humanitarian items outlined by the judges," Anna Holligan, an analyst with BBC News based in the Netherlands, explained.

Pete Hoekstra, the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, called the case "meritless" in a response via Twitter.

My statement on the ICJ decision: pic.twitter.com/cL4GjrnEtE

— Ambassador Pete Hoekstra (@usambnl) October 3, 2018

"Even so," Hoekstra pointed out, "it is worth noting that the Court declined today to grant the sweeping measures requested by Iran. Instead, the Court issued a narrow decision on a very limited range of sectors."

Trump's administration has shown little respect for the U.N. and its institutions in the past, cutting funding to several of the body's agencies as well as routinely criticizing the international organization. In remarks at the U.N. General Assembly last week, the president referred to "global governance" as a method of "coercion and domination."

This year, the White House has also plowed ahead with its decision to remove the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Deal and implement new sanctions, despite significant opposition from the international community. Traditional European allies have pushed back against Trump's efforts, providing millions in aid to Iran and taking steps to protect their economic interests with the Middle Eastern nation.