Iran hauls USA before intl. court over 'illegal' sanctions

Airlines scrap Iran flights in a dramatic about-face

Iran went to the United Nations' highest court Monday in a bid to have USA sanctions lifted following President Donald Trump's decision earlier this year to re-impose them, calling the move "naked economic aggression". He said they were needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb.

In the Netherlands on Monday, Mohsen Mohebi, the lawyer representing Iran, condemned the U.S. for "naked economic aggression" in the first session of the case.

His team of lawyers told the court in The Hague that the measures were already devastating Iran's economy and threatening the welfare of its citizens.

The United States rejection of the nuclear deal is not backed by some key allies.

"Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the U.S. economic strangulation, by all peaceful means".

Washington's lawyers will present their case on Tuesday, with experts believing they are to challenge the ICJ's jurisdiction.

"We will vigorously defend against Iran's merit-less claims this week in The Hague", Pompeo said.

USA lawyers are expected to argue that the United Nations court should not have jurisdiction in the dispute, that the friendship treaty is no longer valid and that the sanctions Washington has levied against Tehran do not violate it anyway.

A second wave of punitive measures is due to hit Iran in early November, targeting its vital energy sector including oil exports.

Iran's economy has slumped since US President Donald Trump ordered that the sanctions be reinstated in May.

They urged the court to order the suspension of the sanctions pending a definitive ruling.

The oral hearings, essentially a request by Iran for a provisional ruling, will last for four days, with a decision to follow within a month. A final decision in the case may take years.

After years of diplomacy, the 2015 deal was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

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Sanctions had been lifted under a 2015 multilateral agreement in return for Iran committing not to pursue nuclear weapons.

Trump, who took office in 2016, called it a "horrible one-sided deal".

However, it remains to be seen if the US would abide by a court order to suspend sanctions on Iran.

The Iranian currency, the rial, has lost half its value against the dollar, the monthly inflation rate has risen to 10.2%, and unemployment stands at 12.5%.

A raft of global companies - including France's Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany's Siemens and Daimler - have suspended operations in Iran in the wake of the move.

These changes, additionally, come as the USA imposed new sanctions on Iran earlier this year and after the country pulled out of the nuclear deal in May.

British Airways, for its part, said it was cancelling its London-Tehran service as "the operation is now not commercially viable".

That year it brought a suit at the ICJ against the freezing of around $2 billion of Iranian assets overseas which USA courts say should go to American victims of terror attacks.

Reuters reported that Iranian lawyers argued to judges with the United Nations-affiliated court that the U.S.is "plainly in violation of the 1955 Treaty of Amity", which was agreed upon as part of an effort to emphasize "friendly relations" and "mutually beneficial trade and investments" between the two nations.

Despite the treaty, the two countries have not had diplomatic ties since 1980.

At the time, British Airways Head of Network and Fleet Sean Doyle touted the new flights as a result of the aforementioned agreement and resulting lifting of sanctions.

Both British Airways and Air France announced the dates of their final outbound flights of September 22 and September 17, respectively, with the returns the following day.

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