TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s top judiciary has ordered the United States to pay up $130 billion in damages about a year after the United Nation’s top court ruled that President Donald Trump’s administration should ease sanctions against Tehran to ensure the continued flow of humanitarian goods.
Iranian Judiciary spokesperson Gholamhussein Esmaeili told a press conference that the country’s courts responded to up to 360 complaints filed by ordinary Iranian citizens who have allegedly suffered from the tight restrictions imposed on the Islamic Republic since the U.S.’ decision last year to exit a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal. He accused Washington of having committed "crimes against the nation”.
The spat is only the latest in a decades-long series of legal battles between the U.S. and Iran which have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In 1988, toward the end of an eight-year war in which the U.S. backed Iraq against Iran, a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing 290 civilian passengers and crew.
Washington "expressed deep regret” but never admitted legal fault and ultimately paid out up to $61.8 million in compensation for the victims’ families as part of a settlement reached in 1996 at the International Court of Justice, the Hague-based, highest UN judiciary body, also called the World Court.
As the U.S.’ relationship with Iran again plummeted last year with the nuclear deal pullout—a move also opposed by fellow signatories China, the European Union, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom—the Trump administration also turned on the World Court. The ICJ ruled in Iran’s favor last October, ordering that the U.S. must "remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments” to Iran’s ability to access goods related to food, medicine, aviation and humanitarian services.”
In February, the ICJ again mostly ruled against the U.S. in determining that the judiciary did, in fact, have jurisdiction over another case, also based on the U.S. and Iran’s 1955 Treaty of Amity. This agreement was reached just two years after the CIA helped to orchestrate a coup to remove Iran’s prime minister and reinstall the shah and more than two decades before the Islamic Revolution, but Tehran argued the treaty still protected it from the seizure of $2 billion of assets from its central bank.
The Trump administration officially abandoned the treaty last year, but the ICJ was still set to hear the case. A UN press release following the decision stated that "the judges also unanimously rejected the U.S. claim that the case was an abuse of process.”
The latest news on the case was a press release issued last week in which the International Court of Justice authorized a reply by Iran and rejoinder by the U.S. to be filed by August 17, 2020, and May 17, 2021, respectively.