The United States says the reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran is a legal and justified national security measure that cannot be challenged by Tehran at the United Nations' highest court.
U.S. State Department legal adviser Jennifer Newstead called on judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on August 28 to reject a request by Iran to order the suspension of the sanctions reimposed by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this month.
The move followed Washington’s withdrawal from the landmark 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting crippling sanctions.
Newstead told the UN court in The Hague that it has no jurisdiction to rule on the matter, and argued that the United States has the right to protect its national security and other interests.
In the first day of hearings on August 27, a lawyer representing Iran, Mohsen Mohebi, told the court that the U.S. policies on Iran were "nothing but a naked economic aggression."
Iran filed a complaint with the ICJ in July, claiming that the sanctions breach a 1955 friendship treaty between Washington and Tehran.
The treaty, known as the Treaty of Amity, called for "friendly relations" between the two countries, encourages mutual trade and investment, and regulates diplomatic ties.
It was signed at a time of close relations between Washington and Tehran, long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution brought about decades of hostility between the two.
While Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear pact, other signees of the treaty urged Washington to remain in the deal and have vowed to stay in it themselves.
The renewed U.S. sanctions target Iran's car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of U.S. dollars crucial to support its oil exports and other global trade.
Further sanctions are due to go into effect in November specifically targeting Iran's banking sector and oil industry, which drives growth in the Iranian economy.