Airlines scrap Iran flights in a dramatic about-face

The Islamic Republic says US President Donald Trump's decision to reimpose sanctions over its nuclear programme aims to bring it "to its knees" and is in breach of a 1955 friendship treaty.

Meanwhile, Trump vowed in a tweet earlier this month to keep the sanctions in tact and escalate them later this year.

Further U.S. sanctions are due to go into effect in November specifically targeting Iran's banking sector and oil industry, which drives growth in the Iranian economy.

The measures have added to Iran's economic woes, helping to fuel strikes and protests across the country and political spectrum.

America is waging a psychological war against Iran and its business partners, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Tehran filed its case before the ICJ in late July, calling on the Hague-based tribunal's judges to order the immediate lifting of sanctions pending a definitive ruling.

In an attempt to compel Iran to agree to a new accord the president reinstated sanctions earlier this month that targeted the Iranian government's purchase of USA dollars, Iran's trade in gold and other precious metals, and its automotive sector.


In a written statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the legal move an attempt by Tehran "to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions, which are necessary to protect our national security".

"The USA is besieging Iran economically, with all the dramatic consequences that a siege implies for the besieged population".

The oral arguments, essentially a request by Iran for a provisional ruling, will last for four days, with a decision to follow within a month.

Iran and the USA have a history of litigation at the International Court of Justice, in cases covering crises including the embassy seizure and the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet mistaken by a US warship for a fighter jet.

The Islamic Republic has threatened to block the waterway in the past in retaliation for the US pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

In May, Trump announced that the USA would abandon the deal.

Tehran says that the new sanctions are already hurting its economy.


Iran's currency the rial has lost around half its value since April.

Pompeo said lawyers would "vigorously defend" the USA and "and we will continue to work with our allies to counter the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran's proliferation of ballistic missiles and other advanced weapons systems that threaten worldwide peace and stability".

Major EU companies, including France's Total, Peugeot, and Renault, and Germany's Siemens and Daimler, have suspended operations in Iran following the introduction of sanctions.

Air France and Dutch sibling KLM will halt flights by the end of September due to "weak commercial results", the group said Thursday.

"The United States has claimed that the very objective of these measures is to cause maximum damage to Iran".

Experts expect them to challenge the ICJ's jurisdiction.


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