US State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead

Washington rejected on Tuesday the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice – the highest UN court – as it fights an Iranian lawsuit over U.S. sanctions.

The lawyer representing Iran, Mohsen Mohebi, had condemned the U.S. on Monday for “naked economic aggression” as it launched its case in The Hague.

Iran argues that U.S. sanctions – imposed after the U.S. withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran – contravene a decades-old bilateral treaty, and are destroying the national economy and currency.

The court did not have the appropriate jurisdiction to try the case, said Jennifer Newstead, a legal advisor for the U.S. State Department responded on Tuesday.

“For this court to accept Iran’s legal manoeuvering would have grave and sobering consequences,” she warned.

The U.S’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six other world powers was legal, she said.

It “was made in recognition of the threat that Iran’s behaviour continues to pose to the national security, foreign policy and the economy of the US.”

“The U.S. does intend lawfully and for good reason to bring heavy pressure to bear on the Iranian leadership to change their ways.”

Iran is calling for the sanctions to be cancelled and for Iran to be compensated.

Tehran had itself for years violated UN resolutions and supported terrorism and needed to be contained, Newstead said.

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