UN court sides with Iran, orders US to ease some sanctions

The United Nation’s top court on Wednesday ordered the U.S. to ease some of its sanctions on Iran — days after President Trump promised that the U.S. would double down on sanctions to halt the Islamic Republic’s “malign conduct.”

The International Court of Justice ruled that the U.S. must lift sanctions that affect the import of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to the safety of civil aviation.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal in May and reimposed a number of sanctions against the Islamic Republic in August. The U.S. intends to reimpose sanctions on the regime’s crude oil exports in November.

Last week, in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Trump promised that the U.S.  “will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran’s malign conduct.”

But the ICJ, ruling from the Hague in response to an Iranian challenge to U.S. actions, said in a preliminary decision that the U.S. must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” sanctions that affect exports to Iran of medicine, medical devices, food, agricultural commodities and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation.

Iran alleged that the sanctions breach a 1955 bilateral agreement known as the Treaty of Amity, from when the two countries had good relations, that regulates and promotes ties between the two countries.

The U.S. had argued that the sanctions cannot be challenged at the ICJ because it is a matter of national security. The court’s president, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said that the case will continue and the U.S. could challenge the court’s jurisdiction.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hailed the victory for Tehran in a tweet, where he described it as “another failure for sanctions-addicted [U.S. government] and victory for rule of law.”

“Imperative for int’l community to collectively counter malign US unilateralism,” he said.

The State Department and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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The ruling is likely to sour relations between the U.S. and the U.N. Trump last week attacked the International Criminal Court, a separate court from the International Court of Justice. The ICC prosecutes those accused of war crimes, while the ICJ deals with disputes between countries.

At the General Assembly last week, Trump said that “the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court.”

“As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority,” he said. “The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.”

Fox News’ Ben Evansky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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