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U.S. cancels 1950s treaty with Iran after international court rules against sanctions

October 3, 2018

The U.S. is pulling out of a 63-year-old friendship treaty with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday, just hours after an international tribunal ruled the Trump administration must roll back some of the sanctions it has imposed on Tehran over its nuclear and missile programs.

Mr. Pompeo appeared in the State Department briefing room to personally deliver the news, calling the termination of the 1955 agreement “overdue” and accusing Iran of abusing the International Court of Justice* in The Hague to undercut U.S. policy.

Iran cited the 1955 agreement as the basis for arguing at the ICJ that curbs on humanitarian trade announced by the Trump administration after President Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal this spring were illegal under international law.

In a preliminary ruling, the court said that Washington must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation.

Mr. Pompeo noted that the court refused to grant Iran much more sweeping relief from U.S. sanctions that Tehran had demanded. He also said the U.S. sanctions policy already took into account exceptions for humanitarian transactions with Iran, and accused the regime in Tehran of spending money on military adventures abroad rather than on the needs of its own citizens.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the court ruling on Twitter, calling it “another failure for sanctions-addicted” U.S. and a “victory for rule of law,” The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Pompeo said it remained to be seen what the practical effect of abrogating the 1955 “Amity Treaty” would be. He said Iran has been “ignoring” the agreement for a long time, and the ICJ ruling provided just one more reason for ending the accord.

On other issues, Mr. Pompeo:

said he was “happy” and “optimistic” to be returning to Pyongyang this weekend for a new round of talks with North Korea on ending its nuclear programs. He said he hopes the meeting will not only set up a second summit between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un but also give both sides a “better understanding” of the pathway to total denuclearization.

insisted international commitment to sanctions on North Korea remained strong, even from Russia and China, untll the nuclear programs are ended. Mr. Pompeo said the sanctions regime was strengthened in talks last week at the U.N. General Assembly.

criticized Russia’s decision to provide its S-300 missile defense system to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, calling it a “very serious escalation” of the conflict.

* (Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly identified the court that heard Iran’s legal challenge to U.S. sanctions. It was the International Court of Justice, not the International Criminal Court.)

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