Bolton: World Court ‘Allowed Iran to Use It as a Forum for Propaganda’

US National Security Advisor John Bolton's comments about the possibility of land swaps between Servia and Kosovo signal a shift in the US position
AFP Fabrice COFFRINI

National Security Adviser John Bolton on Wednesday strongly denounced the International Court for Justice (ICJ) ruling in favor of Iran against U.S. sanctions.

Speaking from the White House, Bolton said Iranian support for terrorism “made a mockery” of the 1955 treaty cited as the basis for the ruling and the U.S. is disappointed the court “allowed Iran to use it as a forum for propaganda.”

Bolton is a longtime critic of international courts, having noted their propensity for rendering politicized judgments and allowing themselves to be abused by authoritarian regimes. In September, he blasted the International Criminal Court for threatening to charge U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan with war crimes.

Bolton criticized the ICJ for ordering the United States to loosen sanctions against Iran on Wednesday and supported the U.S. decision to withdraw from the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran, cited in the court ruling.

Bolton called it “a treaty Iran made a mockery of with its support for terrorism, provocative ballistic missile proliferation, and malign behavior throughout the Middle East.”

“Today’s decision by the International Court of Justice was a defeat for Iran,” he declared, reversing Iran’s claims of victory. “It correctly rejected nearly all of Iran’s requests. But we are disappointed that the ICJ failed to recognize that it has no jurisdiction to issue any order with respect to sanctions the United States imposes to protect its own essential security under the treaty.”

“Instead, the court allowed Iran to use it as a forum for propaganda,” he said. “The Iranian regime has systematically pursued a policy of hostility toward the United States that defames the central premise of the Treaty of Amity. The regime cannot practice animosity in its conduct and then ask for amity under international law.”

Bolton said the Trump administration’s response to the ICJ ruling is consistent with “the decisions President Reagan made in the 1980s in the wake of the politicized suits against the United States by Nicaragua” and “the decision President Bush made in 2005 to withdraw from the optional protocol to the Vienna convention on consular relations following the ICJ’s interference in our domestic criminal justice system.”

“Given this history and Iran’s abuse of the ICJ, we will commence a review of all international agreements that may still expose the United States to purported binding jurisdiction and dispute resolution in the International Court of Justice,” he announced.

“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” he declared.

“Iran is a rogue regime. It has been a threat throughout the Middle East, not only for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs but it’s acted for several decades as the central banker for international terrorism,” Bolton said in response to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s charge that America has become an “outlaw regime.”

“Its hostile and aggressive military behavior in the region today is a breach of international peace and security,” he added. “I don’t take what they say seriously at all.”

Bolton said the ayatollahs have “taken Iran from a respected position in the international community to being a rogue state.”

“Our dispute has never been with the people of Iran. We only wish that they had the ability to control their own government,” he said.

Bolton said today’s decision would not hinder the ability of Iran to negotiate directly with the American government. The point, as he put it, was to remain consistent with the Trump administration’s view of the ICJ as “politicized and ineffective” and its position that international courts cannot “bind the United States.”

He said today’s decision is “closing doors that shouldn’t be open to politicized abuse,” rather than closing the door on negotiations.

Bolton also complimented the French government for taking action against Iranian diplomats charged with conspiracy to launch a terrorist attack against Iranian opposition groups.

“That tells you everything you need to know about how the government of Iran views its responsibilities in connection with diplomatic relations,” he said. “I hope it’s a wake-up call across Europe to the nature of the regime and the threat that they pose.”

.