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The Trump Administration’s ICJ Tantrum

Mike Pompeo, CIA director (Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

The International Court of Justice ordered the U.S. to lift some sanctions on Iran as a result of the case brought by Iran under the 1955 Treaty of Amity:

The United Nations’ top court on Wednesday ordered the United States to lift sanctions on “humanitarian” goods to Iran that President Donald Trump re-imposed after pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) unanimously ruled that Washington “shall remove by means of its choosing any impediments arising from the measures announced on May 8 to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities” as well as airplane parts, said judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.

The Trump administration’s response was unsurprisingly angry and excessive:

The U.S. was not going to respect the ICJ’s ruling in any case, so the overreaction to the decision is that much more ridiculous. It is in keeping with the destructive behavior of this administration that they would tear up a ratified treaty just because Iran used it to embarrass the U.S. on the international stage. Pompeo asserted that the ruling was a “defeat” for Iran, but if the administration believed that they wouldn’t be overreacting by terminating the treaty. Even though Iran did not get everything they were seeking, the ruling was a rebuke to the Trump administration.

It is true that Iran has used the treaty for its own purposes and it has not always lived up to its obligations, but it is also true that the treaty has sometimes been useful to the U.S. in handling disputes with Iran. Tearing up the treaty does nothing to advance U.S. interests. The 1955 treaty is an odd relic of an earlier time when the U.S. and Iran had normal and even good relations. It is telling that the Trump administration is so intent on pursuing its destructive policy towards Iran that they are ending it. A treaty that has survived decades of bad relations between our governments is now being tossed in the garbage on a whim, and as a result it will become even more difficult for the U.S. and Iran to resolve disagreements than it already was. Iran has one more reason not to negotiate with the U.S. now, and once again the administration has shown that it will abrogate any agreement with Iran for the most trivial of reasons.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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