World court to rule on Iran's billions frozen in US

World court to rule on Iran's billions frozen in US

The International Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that it has jurisdiction to hear part of a case brought by Iran against the United States that seeks to claw back around $2 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets.

The court will hold further hearings on the case.

The US made a decision to seize and appropriate close to $2 billion in Iranian assets in 2016, with the US Supreme Court ordering the funds to be paid out to the families of American servicemen killed in the October 1983 terrorist truck bombings of US Army barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

The court also "finds that it has jurisdiction" to rule on the case, which was filed by Iran in 2016, Yusuf said at the end of an hour-long reading of the judgment.

Tehran is seeking to regain funds that were impounded during the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Tehran said the USA had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies.

Service members pick through debris following the bombing attack at the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 23, 1983.

The current Iranian case before the United Nations high court is separate from Iran's lawsuit against US economic sanctions, which the court decided in Iran's favor last week. The attack killed 241 US service members and was blamed, at least partly, on plotters in Iran.

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Tensions between Tehran and Washington are already high around the anniversary of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic's revolution, as well as Wednesday's Middle East summit in Poland, which observers say is aimed at isolating Iran. Its rulings are binding and can not be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

Iran first lodged the lawsuit in June 2016, accusing Washington of breaking the decades-old amity treaty dating from the time of the Shah, who was deposed in the revolution.

The lawsuit was filed with the United Nations high court at The Hague by Iranian officials on October 8.

The timing of the U.S. court ruling had been particularly sensitive as it was just a year after the landmark nuclear deal with world powers which led to the unblocking of other frozen funds.

But he added that "even if it were shown that (Iran's) conduct was not beyond reproach, this would not be sufficient" on its own to throw out the case.

Judges rejected U.S. claims the case should be thrown out because Iran had "unclean hands" from alleged links to "terrorism", and the global tribunal in The Hague did not have jurisdiction over the lawsuit.

US officials including US National Security Advisor John Bolton have previously called the ICJ's legitimacy into account, and were incensed by October's ruling by the court that Washington must drop sanctions on humanitarian goods.

Iran has argued that sanctions imposed in May by the administration of US President Donald Trump also violate terms of the 1955 Amity Treaty.

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