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Iran heads to ICJ to recover assets frozen by US

September 20, 2022 at 9:13 am

Exchanging the United States 100-dollar bills and Iran’s Rial banknotes, bearing a portrait of Iran’s late founder of Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

Iran yesterday told judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the United States had created an “industry of litigation” against Tehran in breach of international law, Reuters reported.

In 2016, Iran took the US to the Hague-based ICJ after the US Supreme Court ordered some $2 billion in Iranian assets to be frozen and for the cash to go to survivors and relatives of attacks Washington considers the Islamic Republic responsible for, including the 1983 bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 299 people including 241 American soldiers, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia which left 19 dead.

Lawyers for Iran accused Washington of having breached a 1955 friendship treaty by allowing American courts to confiscate assets from Iranian companies, including $1.75 billion from Iran’s central bank.

The Islamic Republic denies supporting terrorism.

The 1950s friendship treaty was signed long before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled the US-backed shah, and the subsequent severing of US-Iranian relations.

READ: Iran raises possibility of meeting at UN assembly to revive nuclear deal

Iran’s representative, Tawakkol Habibzadeh told the International Court of Justice on Monday that the US courts’ decision paves the way for the disbursement of billions of dollars in compensation and damages through absentee judgments.

“By doing so the US has created an industry of litigation” against Iran and Iranian companies in an effort to undermine the regime, Habibzadeh said.

Tehran says Washington’s confiscation of Iranian financial assets is illegal, and believes the funds are necessary for the country which is facing economic difficulties due to sanctions and rising inflation.