The United States is officially terminating a 1955 treaty with Iran after an international court issued a ruling based on the treaty this week, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump No time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris MORE announced Wednesday.
“I’m announcing that the United States is terminating the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran,” Pompeo said at a press briefing. “This is a decision frankly that is 39 years overdue.”
It is unclear what practical effect terminating the treaty will have, given that the United States already lacks diplomatic relations with Iran. But coupled with harsher rhetoric on allegations of Iranian threats to the United States in Iraq, Wednesday's announcement follows the pattern of the Trump administration upping its pressure on Iran following President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE's withdrawal from the nuclear accord in May.
Pompeo's announcement came hours after the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation’s highest court, ordered the United States to lift some sanctions against Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products.
Iran had brought the complaint to the court, sometimes called the World Court, based on the 1955 Treaty of Amity, a pre-Iranian Revolution accord that regulates and promotes economic and consular ties between the two countries.
Tehran charged that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions violated the decades-old treaty.
In a preliminary ruling, the court said the United States must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” sanctions that affect humanitarian goods and services and services that affect civilian aviation safety. U.S. assurances that sanctions won’t hurt humanitarian aid “were not adequate," the court said.
By limiting the order to humanitarian aid and civil aviation, the ruling did not go as far as Iran requested. Still, it is being seen as a victory for Tehran.
Pompeo said that while the United States is “disappointed the court failed to recognize it has no jurisdiction,” he framed the ruling as a defeat for Iran.
“Iran is abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes, and their case, as you can see from the decision, lacked merit,” he said. “Given Iran’s history of terrorism, ballistic missile activity and other malign activity, Iran’s claims under the treaty are absurd.
“The court’s ruling today is a defeat for Iran. It rightly rejected all of Iran’s baseless requests. The court denied Iran’s attempt to secure broad measures to interfere with U.S. sanctions and rightly noted Iran’s history of noncompliance with its international obligations under the treaty of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”
Asked about the potential fallout of terminating the treaty, Pompeo said “we’ll see what the practical fallout is.”
“The Iranians have been ignoring it for an awfully long time,” Pompeo said. “We ought to have pulled out of it decades ago. Today marked a useful point with the decision that was made this morning from the ICJ. This marked a useful point for us to demonstrate the absolute absurdity of the Treaty of Amity between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
He also said the United States “has been clear” that existing sanctions exceptions for humanitarian aid and civil aviation safety “will remain.”
Asked about the court’s ruling that those assurances are inadequate, Pompeo reiterated that the United States “has been very clear.”
“We will continue to make sure that we are providing humanitarian assistance in a way that delivers for the people we have spoken very clearly about, the Iranian people,” he said, adding that Tehran was “squandering” its money instead providing aid to its own people.
Last week, Pompeo ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in Basrah, Iraq, alleging the militias under the direction of Iran are targeting the consulate.
On Wednesday, Pompeo said U.S. intelligence “is solid” that Iran is the origin of attacks on the mission in Basrah and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, without elaborating on the intelligence.
“We can see the hand of Ayatollah and his henchmen supporting these attacks on the United States,” he said. “These latest destabilizing acts in Iraq are attempts by the Iranian regime to push back on our efforts to constrain its malign behavior.”
The heightened rhetoric comes as the United States prepares to reimpose the rest of the sanctions that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal. The Trump administration set a Nov. 4 deadline to reimpose those sanctions, including on oil sales, after Trump withdrew from the accord in May.
Pompeo said Iran is “clearly” worried about the U.S. pressure campaign against Iran following the withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
“Clearly, they see our comprehensive pressure campaign as serious and succeeding,” he said. “And we must be prepared for them to continue their attempts to hit back, especially after our full sanctions are reimposed on the fourth of November.”