The ICJ has ruled that Iran can proceed with its case to try to recover its money, with Hague judges rejecting earlier US claims that the case should be thrown out due to Iran's alleged links to international terrorism, AFP reported on Wednesday.
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 Abdulaqawi Yusuf said, reading the decision.
The US decided to seize and appropriate close to $2 billion in Iranian assets in 2016, with the US Supreme Court ordering the funds to be paid out to the families of American servicemen killed in the October 1983 terrorist truck bombings of US Army barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
Last October, Iran called the 2016 Supreme Court ruling an "illegal" breach of a 1955 treaty on economic relations with the United States, with Washington scrapped immediately after Iranian lawyers presented the argument. US lawyers accused Iran of having "unclear hands" over its alleged support for international terrorism, which they said should disqualify the country from the case.
Iran is still believed to have tens of billions of dollars frozen in US banks, 40 years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution which prompted Washington to break off diplomatic relations and slap Tehran with harsh restrictive measures.
US courts have ruled to confiscate chunks of this money in connection with Tehran's alleged terror links. Last year, a New York court ordered Iran to pay $6 billion to compensate the victims of the 9/11 attacks, despite the fact that no evidence suggesting Tehran had anything to do with the act of terrorism has been presented, and that 15 of the 19 aeroplane hijackers were Saudi nationals.
Tensions between Iran and the United States escalated last May, when Washington pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and reintroduced a series of tough sanctions against Tehran. On Wednesday, the US Treasury Department announced fresh sanctions against nine individuals, in addition to the Iran-based Net Peygard Samavat company and the New Horizons Organisation.