Iran sues US in World Court for helping Saddam kill Iranians
March 2003

February 17, 2003 (original publishind date in Der Spiegel)

A strange spectacle in court: As the USA prepares for a war against Iraq, it is being sued by Iran for its previous close relationship to Saddam Hussein. At the International Court of Justice, Teheran is accusing the United States of delivering dangerous chemicals and deadly viruses to Baghdad during the eighties.

The Hague--The oral deposition in Iran's suit against the United States in the matter of the destruction of Iranian oil platforms in 1987/88 began on Monday. The suit was presented to the highest court of the United Nations in 1992 and has been handled in writing ever since.

Teheran accuses Washington of the destruction of three oil platforms in the Persial Gulf. The US argues that the attack was in retaliation of Iranian attacks of ships sailing under the American flag. The court has scheduled three weeks to hear arguments from both sides.

The Iranian representatives accuse the USA of having provided Iraq with raw materials for chemical and biological weapons at the end of the 80's. The US government had delivered dangerous chemicals and deadly viruses to the Iraqi government for its war.

Washington had provided aid to Iraq in this, and other ways, in its war against Iran, said Iran's representative at the start of the oral depositions.

Mohamat Zahedin-Labbaf, as the spokesman of the Iranian delegation, emphasized that the US could not dispute the destruction of the platforms. The US version, that it had been a matter of defense against Iranian missile attacks of ships under the US flag doesn't hold water, he said.

In any case, the USA had violated the Friendship Treaty which both countries had signed in 1955. It is this Treaty which constitutes the legal basis for these proceedings, according to a 1996 decision by the highest court of the United Nations. Both delegations will be able to argue their positions in detail during the next three weeks.

Professor Bruno Summa, a German expert on international law, was sworn in as the new judge at the beginning of the proceedings on Monday. The longtime University Professor at the University of Munich was elected as one of the 15 regular judges of the Supreme Court in the Hague Peace Palace.

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