The United States of America urged Wednesday, the International Court of Justice to throw out a case brought by Iran seeking to claw back around $2 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets that the U.S. Supreme Court awarded to victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks linked to Tehran.
The leader of the U.S. legal team, Richard Visek, told the U.N. court that it should invoke, for the first time, a legal principle known as “unclean hands,” under which a nation can’t bring a case because of its own criminal actions linked to the case.
“Iran’s case should be dismissed in its entirety based on the principle of unclean hands,” Visek told the judges sitting in the court’s Great Hall of Justice.
On Monday, Iran said the U.S. asset confiscation was an attempt to destabilize the Tehran government and a violation of international law.
Iran took its claim to the world court in 2016 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that money held in Iran’s central bank could be used to compensate the 241 victims of a 1983 bombing of a U.S. military base in Lebanon.
The world court ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the case in 2019, rejecting an argument from the U.S. that its national security interests superseded the 1955 Treaty of Amity, which promised friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
Judges are likely to take months to issue a ruling in the case. The court’s judgments are final and legally binding.
Wednesday’s hearing in The Hague came on the day that U.S. President Joe Biden and Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi will be giving speeches on the second day of the U.N. General Assembly’s first fully in-person meeting since the coronavirus pandemic began.