Sunday May 26, 2024

Top court rejects Iran bid for bank funds frozen in US

March 31, 2023

THE HAGUE: The International Court of Justice on Thursday rejected Iran´s bid to unblock nearly $2 billion in central bank assets frozen by the US, but ruled Washington had illegally seized some other funds.

The UN´s top court said Washington´s freezing of funds belonging to several Iranian individuals and companies was “manifestly unreasonable”, however it had no jurisdiction over the bank case.

The US Supreme Court said in 2016 that the frozen Iranian assets should be paid to victims of attacks blamed on Tehran, including the 1983 bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut and a 1996 blast in Saudi Arabia.

“The court by ten votes to five upholds the objection to jurisdiction raised by the United States of America,” ICJ judge Kirill Gevorgian said as he read out the 66-page judgment. Iranian and US delegates declined to comment outside the Hague-based court, which was set up after World War II to rule on disputes between UN member states.

Tehran had dragged its arch foe to the ICJ in 2016, arguing that the freezing of the funds breached the 1955 “Treaty of Amity” between the United States and Iran. The deal was signed long before the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the pro-US shah and severed ties with the United States.

Iran had called for the return of $1.75 billion belonging to Iran´s Central Bank, or Bank Markazi, plus interest, plus assets belonging to Iranian nationals and companies. But the ICJ ruled that the Iranian central bank did not count as a company, as Tehran had argued, and that only companies were protected under the decades-old treaty. It gave the US and Iran 24 months to agree on compensation for affected companies and individuals.