US must allow humanitarian trade with Iran | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2018

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US must allow humanitarian trade with Iran

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 3 October 2018 ordered the United States to remove any restrictions on the export of humanitarian goods and services to Iran after it challenged new US sanctions in July. Judges at the ICJ ruled unanimously that parts of the sanctions the US imposed on Iran in May were illegal and must be removed.

In May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal the United States signed with Iran announcing renewed US sanctions on dollar transactions, food exports and sales of aluminum and steel. The Iranian government hailed the ruling as proof that "Iran is in the right” but the US said it was not bound by the court's decision and would not ease sanctions. It must be noted that even though the verdict of ICJ is binding, US usually ignores the rulings of ICJ as it lacks enforcement mechanism.

Iran had argued that sanctions announced in May violated the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the United States and Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the directive “another failure” for the United States and a “victory for the rule of law.” It is “imperative for international community to collectively counter malign US unilateralism,” Zarif said. Hours later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is terminating the Treaty of Amity, calling it an “absolute absurdity” given the tensions between the two countries.

The 15-member panel of judges ruled that the United States “must remove” any impediments to the free exportation to Iran of goods required for humanitarian needs, as well as spare parts for civil aviation safety. The measures adopted by the United States, the court said, “may entail irreparable consequences.”

Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its atomic energy program in exchange for the lifting of major UN and some US sanctions. That agreement permitted Iranian oil sales, halted penalties on European firms for doing business with Iran and allowed Iran to export things such as carpets, pistachios and other goods.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said he was "disappointed that the court failed to recognise that it has no jurisdiction to issue any order relating to these sanctions measures.” The court ruled that the US must roll back sanctions that would hamper Iran's ability to important medicine, food, and spare parts necessary for civilian airline safety.



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