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US fails to halt Iran bid to free frozen billions

AFP  |  The Hague 

An international court Wednesday ruled can proceed with a bid to unfreeze assets in the United States, rejecting Washington's claims the case must be halted because of Tehran's alleged support for international terrorism.

had argued that Iran's "unclean hands" - a reference to Tehran's suspected backing of terror groups -- should disqualify its lawsuit to recover USD 2 billion in assets frozen by the in 2016.

But the in threw out the US challenges, and said that it had the right to hold full hearings at a later date as to whether will get the money back.

said the UN's top court "unanimously rejects the preliminary objections to admissibility raised by the of America".

The court also "finds that it has jurisdiction" in the case, Yusuf said at the end of an hour-long reading of the decision.

said the had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies -- and with Iran's clerical regime facing economic difficulties after sanctions and a fall in its currency resolving the case remains crucial.

The had said must give the cash to survivors and relatives of victims of attacks blamed on Tehran, including the 1983 bombing of a US Marine barracks in and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in

said the freezing of the funds breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity with the United States, an agreement signed before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution severed relations between the countries.

The announced in October that it was pulling out of the Treaty of Amity after the ICJ in a separate case ordered to lift nuclear-related sanctions on humanitarian goods for Iran.

The ICJ is the top court of the and was set up after World War II to resolve disputes between member states. Its rulings are binding and cannot be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

Tensions between and are already high around the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution and a meeting in starting Wednesday where the United States aims to pile pressure on Iran.

Relations have been strained ever since US Donald Trump's decision last year to pull out of a "terrible" international nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

The 2015 nuclear deal had unblocked billions of dollars in other Iranian funds.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 00:45 IST