Iran accused the United States of "economic aggression" as Tehran’s legal challenge against renewed sanctions by the United States went before the United Nations' highest court on August 27.
Iran filed the case with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July, claiming that the sanctions reimposed by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump breach a decades-old friendship treaty between Washington and Tehran.
Iran is asking the court to suspend the sanctions to protect Iranian interests while the case is being heard -- a process which can last for years.
Speaking at the start of four days of hearings on August 27, Iran's lawyer Mohsen Mohebi told the court in The Hague that the U.S. sanctions violate terms of the 1955 treaty signed by the United States and Iran.
"The U.S. is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran's economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals," Mohebi said.
Mohebi also argued that the reimposition of sanctions by Washington was unjustified as Tehran was abiding by the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers.
"This policy is nothing but a naked economic aggression against my country," the lawyer added.
U.S. lawyers led by State Department adviser Jennifer Newstead are due to respond in court on August 28.
In an initial written reaction displayed in court, the United States said it believes the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the case, and that Iran's assertions fall outside the bounds of the treaty.
A court ruling was expected within a month, but no date has been set.
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.
The 1955 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, a long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution brought about decades of hostility between the two.
Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear pact 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.