THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Lawyers for Iran told judges on Wednesday at the United Nations' top court that by crippling Iran's economy, sanctions imposed by the United States in 2018 had violated a decades-old bilateral friendship treaty.
In an earlier case involving frozen assets, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), or World Court, ruled in 2019 that the 1955 Treaty of Amity could provide a legal basis for its involvement in an Iranian-U.S. dispute.
Lawyer Hamidreza Oloumiyazdi asked judges to reject the United States' argument that the court had no jurisdiction in this case.
"The U.S. measures disregarded the very foundation of international law," Oloumiyazdi said.
"All that matters now for this U.S. administration is whether its measures are succeeding in ruining the Iranian economy and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iranians," he added.
On Monday, lawyers for the United States demanded that the ICJ, which deals with disputes between states, dismiss the case brought by Iran.
The United States says Iran is wrongly invoking the Treaty of Amity to essentially restore a 2015 nuclear pact opposed by the administration of President Donald Trump. Washington imposed economic sanctions on Iran when it abandoned the 2015 pact, aimed at stopping Tehran developing nuclear weapons.
Iran on Wednesday insisted it could base its claims on the decades old friendship treaty because it was precisely concerned with economic relations between the states which were profoundly affected by the sanctions.
The treaty was signed before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the sharp deterioration in ties with Washington. After Iran filed two claims based on the treaty - which gives the ICJ jurisdiction to settle disputes about the application of the agreement - Washington officially withdrew from it in 2018.
The hearings this week in The Hague will deal only with the preliminary matter of whether the court has jurisdiction. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Mark Potter)