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090- Oil Platforms (Islamic Republic of Iran vs USA)

On November 2nd, 1992, the Islamic Republic of Iran filed an application instituting proceedings against the United States of America before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the destruction of Iranian oil platforms. The applicant claimed that between October 1987 and April 1988, American warships had destroyed 3 crude oil production and exploitation sites, a behaviour which they believed was contrary to the Treaty of Friendship, trade and consular rights between Iran and the United States, signed in Tehran on August 15, 1955. The United States raised a preliminary exception objecting to the jurisdiction of the Court.

In its judgment dated December 12th, 1996, the ICJ rejected this objection and affirmed its jurisdiction to hear this case.

Judgment of 12-12-1996.pdf

Subsequently, the United States of America filed a counterclaim asserting that Iran had also breached certain of the obligations contained in the 1955 Treaty. Iran having contested the admissibility of the said counterclaim with regard to the Article 80, paragraph 1, of the Rules of the Court, the ICJ ruled on this question in an order dated March 10th, 1998 and allowed this question to be added to the proceedings.

Order of 10-03-1998.pdf

The Court ruled on the merits in its judgment of November 6, 2003. It examined all of the claims of Iran and the United States in turn and concluded that:

  1. In light of the provisions of the Treaty, the United States could only resort to the use of force in a case of self-defence, in a manner that is necessary and proportionate to the attack suffered. In the present case, the evidence provided did not support the conclusion that these conditions were met. Consequently, the United States could not avail itself of the benefit of Article XX, paragraph 1, sub-paragraph d) of the 1955 Treaty;

  2. However, the Court noted that the facilities in question were not functional at the time of the attacks. Their destruction could not therefore affect the freedom of commerce between the territories of the two States, a freedom guaranteed by Article X, paragraph 1 of the 1955 Treaty. Iran therefore could not claim reparations under this title;
  3. Finally, with regards to the counterclaim filed by the United States, namely a claim for compensation for the ships destroyed by the Iranian attacks, the ICJ noted that none of these ships participated in the trade between the two countries and therefore rejected this request under the provision of the Treaty.

Judgment of 06-11-2003.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.