Features

Iran’s empty court victory

The International Court of Justice ruled that the US should ease sanctions on Iran, says Alex Rankine. But the judgement is unlikely to change White House policy.

916-Rouhani-634
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the US should ease sanctions on Iran, but the judgement is unlikely to change White House policy. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions in August, citing dissatisfaction with alleged covert Iranian activities in the Middle East, in a rejection of the 2015 nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of previous sanctions.

A second wave of sanctions next month will see Washington bring in new measures targeting the oil and shipping sectors. The ICJ found that the new sanctions breach the terms of a 1955 treaty, but the court has no power to compel the US to obey the ruling.

Separately, the EU has announced plans to set up a special payments channel that will allow it to maintain economic ties with Iran, a move that "sends a clear message to Tehran and Washington", say Farnaz Fassihi and Laurence Norman in The Wall Street Journal. The EU's theory is that if the economic benefits of the deal keep flowing then Iran will be more likely to hold up its end of the bargain.

The problem is that the new system is unlikely to prevent a rush to the exits by European companies for most firms, "the risk of losing access to the $20trn US economy and being cut off from the Western financial system" far exceeds the benefits of trading with impoverished Iran.

Other events this week were a reminder that Tehran can be a tricky partner, says Alissa Rubin in The New York Times. France froze Iranian spy assets and publicly accused the country's intelligence service of mounting a foiled bomb plot against an Iranian opposition group's rally on French soil earlier this year. The bomb plot feeds into the US narrative that Tehran is a rogue regime, but Europe hopes that "it is possible to punish Iran for hostile actions" on one hand while still preserving the nuclear deal on the other.

Recommended

How long can the good times roll?
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom
Bitcoin

Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to home working, flexible employment practices and the rise of the “digital nomad”. One of the best …
21 Oct 2020
I wish I knew what negative interest rates were, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what negative interest rates were, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

There’s been a lot of talk from the Bank of England recently about introducing “negative interest rates”. So what on earth are they, and what would th…
20 Oct 2020
How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?
Sponsored

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?

In his recent articles looking at different aspects of the fixed-income investing world, David Stevenson looked at inflation. Today he looks at a clos…
19 Oct 2020

Most Popular

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?
Sponsored

How will we repay our vast debt pile? Do we even need to?

In his recent articles looking at different aspects of the fixed-income investing world, David Stevenson looked at inflation. Today he looks at a clos…
19 Oct 2020
Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom
Bitcoin

Buying bitcoin could be the best way to play the remote working boom

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to home working, flexible employment practices and the rise of the “digital nomad”. One of the best …
21 Oct 2020
Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020