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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:42 GMT
Court hears Iranian claim against US
The oil port of Faw, Iraq
Iran accuses the US of violating a 1955 treaty
The International Court of Justice has begun hearings into a demand by Iran for the United States to pay compensation for oil platforms it destroyed 15 years ago.

Washington says the US navy attacked the platforms because they were being used for attacks on shipping during the Iran-Iraq war.

The US has filed its own case, calling for Iran to pay damages for threatening shipping in the Gulf.
Iranian soldiers in 1982
The US says the Iranian military attacked ships

The hearing of testimony is scheduled to last three weeks but a judgement may take months or even years to be reached.

Iran filed its complaint to the court in 1992, saying that the US attack on its oil installations violated a 1955 treaty of political and economic friendship between the two countries.

US warships destroyed the first platform in October 1987 after an Iranian missile injured 18 crew on a US oil tanker.

Washington - which supported Iraq in the war - ordered two more off-shore installations to be destroyed in April 1988 after 10 sailors on a US frigate were injured in a mine explosion.

The US said the oil platforms were being used to launch attacks on shipping in the Gulf, but Iran denied the charge.

Binding ruling

The US objected to the filing of the case in 1992, arguing that the ICJ did not have jurisdiction.

But the court - which sits in The Hague - rejected that in 1996.

Judges did, however, allow Washington to file a counter-claim seeking damages from Iran for also violating the 1955 treaty and endangering commercial shipping.

While the court's judgement will be final and binding, it has no means to enforce any ruling.

See also:

11 Feb 03 | Middle East
06 Feb 03 | Middle East
06 Feb 03 | Middle East
06 Feb 03 | Middle East
28 Dec 02 | Country profiles
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