Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif celebrated an order from the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday that the Trump administration to ease sanctions on Iran. (Photo: Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency/cc)

Rejecting US Claims They Don't Harm Humanitarian Aid, UN Court Orders Easing of Sanctions Iran Calls 'Illegal and Cruel'

"The U.S. of course will disregard the ruling," says Trita Parsi, "but Iran's aim likely was to establish that it is the U.S., and not Iran, that is the rogue nation now."

Jessica Corbett

The United Nations' highest court on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to ease sanctions on Iran that are impacting humanitarian aid and aviation safety, ruling that U.S. assurances the economic limitations would not endanger both "were not adequate."

"Iran's strategy of taking the U.S. to the international court has paid off," responded Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). "The U.S. of course will disregard the ruling, but Iran's aim likely was to establish that it is the U.S., and not Iran, that is the rogue nation now."

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in a tweet, called the decision "another failure for sanctions-addicted [U.S. government] and victory for rule of law." Echoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's remarks to the United Nations last week, Zarif added that it is "imperative for int'l community to collectively counter malign U.S. unilateralism."

The preliminary ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—which Washington is expected to challenged—comes after President Donald Trump in May announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing economic sanctions, despite warnings against doing so from the international community.

Since then, European and Iranian leaders have been trying to salvage the nuclear deal—officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—as Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly have worked to "foment unrest" in Iran and lay the groundwork for war.

"It has become difficult if not impossible for Iran, Iranian companies, and nationals to engage in international financial transactions that would allow them to purchase items not covered, in principle, by the measures, such as foodstuffs, medical supplies and medical equipment."
—ICJ

While the Trump administration alleged that Iran was trying misuse the ICJ, Iran argued to the Hague-based court that U.S. sanctions violate the 1955 bilateral Treaty of Amity, which has remained in force despite hostility between the nations following the 1979 Iranian revolution that saw a takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the subsequent hostage crisis.

The 15-member panel of justices determined Wednesday that "it has become difficult if not impossible for Iran, Iranian companies, and nationals to engage in international financial transactions that would allow them to purchase items not covered, in principle, by the measures, such as foodstuffs, medical supplies and medical equipment."

"Make no mistake: ICJ decision that some U.S. sanctions on Iran are illegal are as much a victory for Iran as it is a victory for the EU," Parsi concluded. "It shows that international law is behind the EU as it seeks to keep the Iran Deal alive, and that it is Trump that's violating international law."

Iran's Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said that "the decision proved once again that the Islamic Republic is right and the U.S. sanctions against people and citizens of our country are illegal and cruel."

"The United States must comply with its international commitments and lift obstacles to Iranian trade," the ministry added. Although ICJ rulings are binding, the court has no ability to enforce them, and as Reuters pointed out, "both the United States and Iran have ignored them in the past."

"The court order issued on Wednesday is temporary pending a resolution of Iran's full lawsuit against Washington by the ICJ, something that could take years," Reuters also noted. Despite the order, the Trump administration, "plans to pursue a new series of sanctions due to go into effect Nov. 4 aimed at curtailing Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of its economy."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·


'About Damn Time': DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump's Tax Returns to Congress

"This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump's crimes. Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency."

Jake Johnson ·


'Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt,' Trump Told DOJ in December

"It was a failed coup. Call it what it was. It didn't work! But they sure as hell tried."

Kenny Stancil ·