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Iran Argues U.S. Violating ‘Friendship Treaty’ With Sanctions

President Dwight Eiesenhower (R) meets with Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from Iran, 1954
President Dwight Eiesenhower (R) meets with Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from Iran, 1954

Iran is asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order the United States to lift sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration, relying on a decades-old treaty of friendship between Washington and Tehran.

Iranian lawyers on August 27 will present their case before the ICJ that the sanctions violate terms of the 1955 friendship treaty signed by the United States and Iran.

The treaty called for "friendly relations" between the two countries, encourages mutual trade and investment, and regulates diplomatic ties.

The 1955 treaty was signed at a time of close relations between Washington and Tehran, a long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution brought about decades of hostility between the two.

The United States is expected to formally respond in court beginning on August 28.

U.S. officials have not yet issued a public comment on the suit, but lawyers are expected to argue that the United Nations court does not have jurisdiction in the dispute.

They will also likely say that the friendship treaty is no longer valid and that the sanctions do not violate its terms it in any case.

The hearings are expected to last four days, and a court decision is expected to follow within a month.

Rulings of the ICJ -- also known as the World Court -- are binding, but it does not have power to enforce them. Occasionally, they are ignored by countries involved.

Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers and reimposed sanctions originally lifted as part of the accord in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

The other signees of the treaty unsuccessfully urged Washington to remain in the deal and have vowed to stay in it themselves.

The U.S. sanctions revived this month 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 U.S. 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.

The sanctions have hit Iran hard, with the country's currency losing much of its value, leading to protests on the streets of many Iranian cities.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP