US government officials are terminating a 1955 treaty with Iran which had formed the basis of a bid by Iranian officials to lift US sanctions on the country.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo disclosed the decision following the ruling by the International Court of Justice that the US government should lift sanctions preventing the export of equipment and services for maintaining civil aviation safety, as well as medicines.
Pompeo says the decision to end the treaty is “overdue” by 39 years, a reference to the 1979 Iranian revolution.
He describes the International Court of Justice case as “meritless” and that the Iranian government has been using the court for “political and propaganda purposes”.
Pompeo points out that individual licensing options are already in place to handle potential humanitarian issues.
“Existing exceptions, authorisations, and licensing policies for humanitarian-related transactions and safety of flight will remain in effect,” he stresses.
“We’re working closely with the Department of the Treasury to ensure that certain humanitarian-related transactions involving Iran can and will continue.”
Pompeo says Iran has “hypocritically” and “groundlessly” taken advantage of the court to attack the USA and, in response, the 1955 treaty – known as the Treaty of Amity – is being “terminated”.
The government is also to review all international treaties which might leave the USA exposed to similar dispute resolutions in the International Court of Justice.
National security advisor John Bolton stresses that the US government’s dispute has “never been with the people of Iran”, adding: “We only wish they had the ability to control their own government.”
He says: “Our policy is not regime change, but we do expect substantial change in their behaviour.”
Sanctions on civil aviation were restored after the US government pulled out of a multinational agreement, negotiated alongside European partners, to address Iran’s nuclear programme.
While the European states have remained engaged to the agreement, Bolton believes this situation is changing.
“First you have denial, then you have anger,” he says. “Eventually, you get to acceptance. And I think that’s the direction the Europeans are moving in.”