US calls ruling a defeat for Iran, ends treaty

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Washington (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday called an international court ruling against its Iran sanctions a defeat for Tehran as it terminated a 1955 treaty on which the case was based.

The International Criminal Court ordered the United States to lift sanctions on medicine, food and civilian airplane spare parts, just as President Donald Trump tries to squeeze Iran's economy.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the UN court did not rule more broadly against US sanctions and he insisted that the United States already exempted humanitarian goods from the sanctions.

"The court's ruling today was a defeat for Iran. It rightly rejected all of Iran's baseless requests," Pompeo told reporters.

Accusing Iran of "abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes," Pompeo announced that the United States was ending a friendship treaty signed when Iran was ruled by the pro-US shah.

"This is a decision, frankly, that is 39 years overdue," Pompeo said, referring to the time since the 1979 Islamic revolution transformed Iran from one of the closest allies to a determined foe.

"Given Iran's history of terrorism, ballistic missile activity and other malign behaviors, Iran's claims under the treaty are absurd," he said.

The Treaty of Amity with Iran, signed in 1955 and ratified by the US Senate a year later, lays out practicalities for unfettered economic relations and consular rights between the two countries.

The US withdrawal will have limited direct effect, with the two countries not even having diplomatic relations.

But Iran has repeatedly cited the treaty to press claims from the United States, including when the US Navy shot down an Iran Air civilian plane in 1988, killing 290 people.

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