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World court to rule on Iran's billions frozen in US

AFP  |  The Hague 

The on Wednesday will give its decision on a bid by to recover USD 2 billion in frozen assets that the says must be paid to terror victims.

The ruled in 2016 that 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

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

At the last hearing on Iran's appeal in October at the Hague-based tribunal, said Iran has "unclean hands" and that its alleged support for terrorism should disqualify the case from being heard.

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.

Wednesday's ruling threatens to throw more fuel on the fire after a decision in October when the court ordered the US to lift sanctions on humanitarian goods for Iran. The announced hours after that decision it was pulling out of the Treaty of Amity, upon which Iran had also based the sanctions case.

Tensions between and are already high around anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

Relations have been strained since US Donald Trump's decision to pull out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

Iran first lodged the case on the frozen funds in June 2016, accusing of breaking the decades-old bilateral treaty dating from the time of the Shah, who was deposed in the revolution.

said the had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies.

In October, Richard Visek, a legal official, told the ICJ that "Iran comes to the court with unclean hands -- indeed, it is a remarkable show of bad faith."

US had added at the time that "we owe it to our fallen heroes, their families, and the victims of Iran's terrorist activities to vigorously defend against the Iranian regime's meritless claims... in "

The ruled in April 2016 that the USD 2 billion in frozen Iranian assets should be paid to about 1,000 survivors and relatives of those killed in attacks blamed on the Islamic Republic.

As well as the Marine barracks attack, in which 241 soldiers were killed, these also included the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in

The timing of the US court ruling had been particularly sensitive as it was just a year after the landmark nuclear deal with world powers which led to the unblocking of other frozen funds.

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

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 11:50 IST