AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dismissing U.S. objections, judges at the International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that the U.N. body has jurisdiction to hear a claim by Iran to recover $1.75 billion in assets frozen by Washington.
The ruling opens the way for the court to hear the case on its merits, a process that could take years.
The case filed in June 2016 centres on assets from the Iranian national bank, Bank Markazi, seized by U.S. courts to compensate families of victims of a 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps. base which Washington blames on Iran.
Iran denies involvement in the Beirut attack which killed 307 people, including 241 U.S. military personnel.
The United States had argued that Iran based its claims on an essentially outdated 1955 Amity Treaty which Washington has said it will renounce.
The court’s 15-judge panel “unanimously finds that it has jurisdiction. ..to rule on the application filed by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said in a reading of the decision.
The ruling may also have implications for a second case at the court in which Iran is contesting U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
Iran has argued that sanctions imposed in May by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump also violate terms of the 1955 Amity Treaty.
Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Editing by William Maclean; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean