It is hard to imagine the United States and Iran, the two countries that have been on the brink of war several times over the last decades, were once close enough to sign what was essentially a bilateral friendship treaty.
Of course, this was way before the hostage crisis of 1979 when Iranian student revolutionaries stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held more than 50 Americans as captives for 444 days during the Iranian Revolution. It also predated the 1988 airplane crash when a U.S. warship shot down an Iranian commercial aircraft killing all 290 passengers onboard.
The U.S.-Iranian Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights was signed in 1955 by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Iran’s Mohammad Reza Shah after a U.S. and U.K.-backed coup installed as the monarch of the Middle Eastern country.
Now, after over half-a-century later, the Trump administration abruptly cancelled the treaty in order to avoid lifting sanctions from Iran on humanitarian grounds.
The move came after Iran challenged the U.S. sanctions, which were imposed after President Donald Trump exacerbated the diplomatic crisis between two countries by pulling out of the infamous nuclear deal, at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Using the treaty as a ground rule, Iranian government claimed the administration had violated the 1955 agreement and demanded it to not only remove the sanctions but also reimburse Iran for the financial loses it has faced.
Although the court rejected the demands to have the U.S. lift all sanctions and compensate for the losses it incurred, but it did rule the U.S. “must remove” sanctions that would affect the flow of items such as food, medical supplies, parts for commercial aviation and other humanitarian products that “may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.”
In response to the ICJ’s ruling, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the country’s departure from the said treaty.
“This is a decision, frankly, that is 39 years overdue. In July, Iran brought a meritless case in the International Court of Justice alleging violations of the Treaty of Amity,” he said. “Iran seeks to challenge the United States decision to cease participation in the Iran nuclear deal and to re-impose the sanctions that were lifted as a part of that deal. Iran is attempting to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions necessary to protect our national security. And Iran is abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes and their case, as you can see from the decision, lacked merit.”
Although Pompeo didn’t detail the possible ramifications of this decision, it is important to mention this pre-revolutionary treaty, though rarely talked about, provided both the countries a way to take their grievances to the international court instead of going to war with each other.
“In light of how Iran has hypocritically and groundlessly abused the ICJ as a forum for attacking the United States, I am therefore announcing today that the United States is terminating the Treaty of Amity with Iran,” Pompeo continued. “I hope that Iran’s leaders will come to recognize that the only way to secure a bright future for its country is by ceasing their campaign of terror and destruction around the world.”
As the Associated Press reported, the International Court of Justice has no authority to make the Trump administration enforce its ruling, even though it is legally binding.
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