The final hearing of the case related to the freezing and confiscation of the assets of Iran’s Central Bank, Bank Melli, and a number of other Iranian banks and companies by the U.S. administration and courts at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague began on Monday and will continue until Friday.
At the ICJ, Iran’s representative, Tavakol Habibzadeh, pointed to the history of U.S. actions against human rights and international law against Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and called for the condemnation of the United States and compensation for the damages the Iranian government has suffered.
Iran’s lawyers, citing legal standards and international judicial procedures, showed that the laws approved by the U.S. and its courts’ decisions against Iran are in breach of its obligations under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights between Washington and Tehran.
Richard Visek, acting legal adviser of the U.S. State Department, claimed Wednesday that Iran cannot complain about U.S. courts confiscating assets because the actions that led to the asset freeze were the result of Iran’s own illegal conduct.
“Iran’s case should be dismissed in its entirety,” Visek said at the ICJ hearing.
Iran brought the case against Washington in 2016 for breaching the friendship treaty by allowing U.S. courts to confiscate some $2 billion in Iranian assets, including $1.75 billion from the Central Bank of Iran, to be given in compensation to victims of terrorist attacks.
The U.S. government, however, had claimed that since the two countries have not continuously had political and trade ties, the 1955 treaty is not enforceable and the ICJ does not have jurisdiction to consider a case brought by Iran.
After extensive deliberations and considering arguments from both sides, the court overruled the preliminary objections made by the U.S. in February 2019 and, subsequently, the case entered substantive proceedings.
The Treaty of Amity was signed on August 15, 1955, when then-president Dwight Eisenhower and then-prime minister Hossein Ala were in office in Washington and Tehran, respectively. It entered into force on June 16, 1957.
According to Article XXI, Clause 2, of the treaty, any dispute between the High Contracting Parties as to the interpretation or application of the treaty, not satisfactorily adjusted by diplomacy, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice, unless the High Contracting Parties agree to settlement by some other pacific means.
Although the treaty had a minimum duration of 10 years, according to Article XXIII, Clause 3, either High Contracting Party may, by giving one year’s written notice to the other High Contracting Party, terminate the treaty. None of the parties, however, took this step and, thus, the treaty is in effect despite Washington’s claim.
Davood Aghaee, a professor of International Relations at Tehran University, predicted that the ICJ will most likely rule in favor of Iran, unblocking $1.75 billion of Iran’s frozen assets in the U.S.