WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Wednesday pulled out of two international agreements after Iran and the Palestinians complained to the International Court of Justice about US policies, the latest withdrawal by Washington from multilateral accords.
The US national security adviser John Bolton slammed the highest United Nations tribunal as “politicised and ineffective” as he announced that the United States would review all international agreements that could expose it to binding decisions by the ICJ.
Earlier on Wednesday, the ICJ handed a victory to Tehran, ordering the United States to ensure that sanctions against Iran, due to be tightened next month, do not affect humanitarian aid or civil aviation safety.
Tehran had argued that the US sanctions imposed since May by the Trump administration violated the terms their 1955 Treaty of Amity. Washington responded by pulling out of the treaty, a little-known agreement that was signed long before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that turned the two countries into arch enemies.
The ICJ, based in The Hague, in the Netherlands, is the United Nations’ venue for resolving disputes between nations.
There have been mounting concerns among US allies about the Trump administration’s commitment to multilateralism.
In the nearly two years since being elected, President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from a nuclear agreement between six powers and Iran, pulled out of a global climate accord, left the UN cultural agency, and threatened NATO military allies that the United States would “go its own way” if members did not spend more on defence.
Bolton, citing what he called “Iran’s abuse of the ICJ”, said the United States would also withdraw from the “optional protocol” under the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations.
“We will commence a review of all international agreements that may still expose the United States to purported binding jurisdiction, dispute resolution in the International Court of Justice,” Bolton said on Wednesday. “The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicised claims are brought against us.”
The decision to withdraw from the optional protocol follows a complaint brought by the Palestinians in September, which challenged Washington’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Vienna Convention is an international treaty setting out diplomatic relations between states. It is often cited as a means to provide diplomatic immunity.
Earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States should have pulled out of the treaty of amity with Iran decades ago and said the ICJ it had no jurisdiction of sanctions that he said were essential to US security interests.
The United States has adopted a hardline policy against Tehran, withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions.
“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,” Pompeo said.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif criticised the US withdrawal, saying on Twitter, “Outlaw regime.”
In 2005, the Bush administration took issue with the ICJ after it ruled that the execution of a Mexican national in Texas breached US obligations under international law.
The Palestinians argued that the US government’s placement of its embassy in Jerusalem violated an international treaty and that it should be moved.
“This really has less to do with Iran and the Palestinians than with the continued consistent policy of the United States to reject the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, which we think is politicised and ineffective,” Bolton said.
“I’d like to stress,” he added, “the United States remains a party to the underlying Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and we expect all other parties to abide by their international obligations under the convention.”
Palestine was recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2012 as a non-member observer state, though its statehood is not recognised by either Israel or the United States.