An international court Wednesday ruled Iran can proceed with a bid to unfreeze assets in the United States, rejecting Washington's claims the case must be halted because of Tehran's alleged support for international terrorism.
Washington had argued that Iran's "unclean hands" -- a reference to Tehran's suspected backing of terror groups -- should disqualify its lawsuit to recover $2 billion in assets frozen by the US Supreme Court in 2016.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague threw out some of the US challenges, and said it had the right to hold full hearings at a later date as to whether Tehran will get the money back.
Chief judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the UN's top court "unanimously rejects the preliminary objections to admissibility raised by the United States of America".
Washington, however, called the court's ruling a "significant victory" for America because it threw out a key issue pertaining to Iran's claims of sovereign immunity.
Iran said the freezing of the funds breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity with the United States, an agreement signed before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution severed relations between the countries.
Tehran said the United States had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies -- and with Iran's clerical regime facing economic difficulties after sanctions and a fall in its currency, resolving the case remains crucial.