Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 8) Francis A. Boyle: I’m Ready to Help Iran Freeze the Sanctions

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Iran Review Exclusive Interview with Francis A. Boyle
By: Kourosh Ziabari

The economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and its allies are being intensified every single day. The United States brags about diplomacy, détente and reconciliation with Iran, but it tightens the grip of sanctions around Iran on every occasion and especially once Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are slated to meet. It not only imposes new sanctions on Iran’s finance, oil, insurance and media sectors, but incites the European countries to impose sanctions on Iran, as well. The sanctions have made trade, business and daily life difficult for the Iranian people, but they haven’t surrendered yet.

In order to discuss the different aspects of the anti-Iran sanctions, Iran Review has begun doing exclusive interviews with renowned political analysts, legal experts, authors and university professors who oppose these unjustifiable sanctions. Our today’s interviewee is one of the world’s most renowned lawyers and legal experts.

Francis A. Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois’s College of Law. Prof. Boyle has a Ph.D. in political science from the Harvard University. He is a vocal critic of the U.S. foreign policy, and especially the War on Terror which has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people across the world, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007 Boyle denounced the “ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by the Bush Jr. administration and its nefarious foreign accomplices in allied governments such as in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Georgia, etc.”

Prof. Boyle has predicted that the land of Palestine which is stolen and occupied by the Israelis will return to its original owners, and Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of the Palestinian State. According to Boyle, Israel is “nothing more than a Jewish Bantustan, set up by the Western colonial powers, in the Middle East, to control and dominate the Middle East at their behest.”

In 2006, Prof. Francis A. Boyle was asked by the Iranian government to help file a lawsuit against the United States and its European allies over the illegal and unilateral economic sanctions they have imposed on Iran. He agreed to cooperate and submitted his proposal to the Iran, but his cooperation didn’t continue for some reasons. In this interview, we will be discussing Prof. Boyle’s proposal and also his viewpoints regarding the reasons why he thinks the anti-Iran sanctions are illegal and criminal. 

Q: Do you think that the process of passing Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Security Council was illegal, and if so, do the resolutions issued on this basis have legal warranty and credibility?

A: Thank you very much for having me on, and my best to all my friends in Iran; it’s been a while since I last spoke to you. Of course not. There’s no reason to move Iran’s file to the Security Council. It should have stayed with the IAEA, but the U.S. government exerted pressure on the IAEA board to forward it to the Security Council.

Q: What about the unilateral sanctions? Isn’t focusing the sanctions on medicine, foodstuff and consumer goods and depriving the ordinary citizens of such goods tantamount to a continued and systematic violation of human rights?

A: Certainly this is clearly designed to punish and coerce the Iranian people and try to turn them against the government under President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei. I had already submitted a proposal to the Iranian government quite some time ago to sue the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Israel and several other European states at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to stop the further development of the sanctions [that are] only collectively punishing the Iranian people and it’s going to get worse the next time the EU meets, so again I respectfully renew my request to President Ahmadinejad and His Holiness Ayatollah Khamenei to give me the authority to file those lawsuits as soon as possible.

Q: Would you please elaborate more on your proposal? Will the lawsuit have a practical guarantee if it’s submitted to the ICJ? I mean, can it lead to a freeze on the unilateral sanctions and the EU’s oil embargo against Iran?

A: If the Iranian government had followed my proposal when I submitted it in 2006, I think we could have prevented large numbers of the sanctions already imposed. At this point, I guess the best we are able to do it to stop further sanctions, because it’s clear that the United States, Britain, France and the European Union member states will be meeting again soon to impose another round of sanctions against Iran. So I can’t make any guarantees about prior sanctions. We should have filed this lawsuit a long time ago and we could stop them. But, as for future sanctions, yes, I think we can stop them, and also to inhibit a military attack upon Iran by the United States, Israel, France, Britain and above them Canada and some other NATO states who have been threatening Iran. So that’s what we can do now.

Q: How can Iran legally demonstrate that the sanctions imposed on it are illegal? I ask this because the United States claims that it imposes sanctions to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while Iran says that its nuclear program is peaceful. How can Iran prove that the sanctions are unlawful and unjustifiable?

A: Again, my proposal to the Iranian government going back to 2006 was to sue all these states at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and get a temporary restraining order against all of them for any economic sanctions against Iran and against threatening and preparing a military attack against Iran. So, that’s what Iran can do. What can I say? Everything I can is to get the Iranian government of Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad to authorize this lawsuit and I respectfully renew my request again before the situation gets worse.

Q: Do you have any experience of helping other UN member states take legal action against the economic sanctions imposed upon them by the United States and other countries?

A: Well, I advised Colonel Gaddafi to sue the United States and Britain over the spurious Lockerbie bombing allegations at the world court and eventually Colonel Gaddafi was able to work his way out of those sanctions, yes. And at least at the time I was advising him, there was no military attack until 2011 that the United States and NATO decided to stab Colonel Gaddafi in the back. But I’ve done this work with Libya, and also with Bosnia. I won two world court orders on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Yugoslavia to prevent them from committing all acts of genocide against them. So, I submitted a memorandum to your government, and also answered all of their questions, and yet for some reason, the green light to this lawsuit has not been given by the president or His Holiness the Ayatollah. So I really don’t know what the problem is. I guess it’s political. I guess there are some people in the Iranian government who believe in good faith that they can negotiate with the Americans, but I don’t really see that would get anywhere; between you and me. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t. I think the Americans are biding their time until they’re taking care of Syria and then they’ll turn on Iran. But of course this is for the President of Iran to decide, and His Holiness the Ayatollah, not me.

Q: Had you received any response from the Iranian government when you first submitted your proposal to them? Had they told you what actions are needed to be taken so that you may realize your plan?

A: It was the Iranian government that asked me to submit the proposal in the first place, which I did and then I responded to their questions. But then, there was nothing more after that. I think the last time I heard from them was a year ago. So, there’s not much more I can do sitting here in Champaign, Illinois. I think I’ve made sure that my proposal got to the office of the president and got to the office of His Holiness Ayatollah Khamenei. So they are aware of this proposal, but so far, nothing more has happened. But again, maybe they decided that they prefer negotiations with the Americans and this is for them to decide, not me. I’m a lawyer.

Q: I don’t know why the office of president hasn’t responded to you so far. Maybe they have some bureaucratic restrictions or problems to cooperate with you. But what I want to ask you now is that, are you still ready and willing to cooperate with the Iranian government if they reply to you and take up your initiative for suing the United States and its European allies in the International Court of Justice?

A: Sure; I’ll be on the next airplane to The Hague to meet with your lawyers there and draft a lawsuit. I’ve already told them, but haven’t heard anything.

Q: Let’s get to some questions on the sanctions and war threats against Iran. It seems that the main objective Israel seeks through issuing repeated war threats on Iran is to persuade the U.S. and EU to intensify the sanctions against the country. Why don’t the United Nations and European Union give a clear-cut and decisive response to Israel which is continuously threatening Iran in violation of the UN Charter?

A: Because the United States controls the entire Security Council except Russia and China, and in my opinion, I don’t believe that Iran can rely upon Russia and China. Russia and China sold out Libya in the Security Council resolution 1973 in 2011. I know Iran is diplomatically relying on Russia and China to prevent further sanctions at the Security Council, but I think Iran has to protect itself and act to protect its own interest. We remember the long contentious relationship between Iran and Russia and before that the Soviet Union when they occupied half of Iran during the World War II, so Russia is going to do whatever Russia thinks is in its own interest, and if in some point they think that it’s necessary to sacrifice Iran to the Americans, they will, just like they sacrificed Libya.

Q: What do you think about the legal aspects of the assassination of Iran’s civilian nuclear scientists by the Israeli agents and the members of U.S., Britain and other European countries’ intelligence agencies? How is it possible to legally sue these countries for such terrorist activities and other acts of sabotage they occasionally carry out in Iran’s soil?

A: Yes, there is a treaty directly on point prohibiting computer attacks on nuclear power facilities and I’m surprised that Iran has not, to my best knowledge, so far raised this treaty. There’s a treaty directly on point prohibiting attacks on nuclear power facilities. That was concluded under the auspices of the United Nations a rather while ago and clearly called such kinds of attacks on Iran’s nuclear power and research facilities by Israel and the United States as an international crime and an act of terrorism. This UN treaty was concluded within a series of international treaties when the West intended to deal with the phenomenon of international terrorism. Certainly, if this lawsuit were filed at the world court against the United States, Israel, Britain, France and Germany, we could raise these acts of terrorism against the Iranian nuclear facilities and the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists. That can be done.

Q: Would you please delve on the issue of the assassinations? Because so far, 5 Iranian scientists have been murdered in the daylight, while no voice of condemnation and criticism was raised and the UN Secretary General hasn’t even sent a message of sympathy with the Iranian nation. Why is it so?

A: This is clearly state terrorism and international criminal activity by the United States and Israel at the minimum. But again, the United States pretty much controls the Security Council, and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon does whatever the Americans tell him to do. It was the United States who got Ban Ki-moon that job and put him into that position, so he takes his orders from the United States and of course he will not say anything in condemnation.

Q: Let’s get back to the sanctions. It’s said that the sanctions that target the ordinary civilians are a kind of collective punishment, and collective punishment is a crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunals. The Western states claim that they care for the human rights, but they are behaving in such a hypocritical manner and punish the Iranian citizens for a crime they have not committed. What’s your viewpoint on that?

A: Sure. You’re correct that the United States and the European states are all trying very hard to turn the Iranian people against their government and their leadership including His Holiness the Ayatollah. Remember that the United States always has opposed the Islamic Republic of Iran, and so they want to get rid of it. Now, as I said, if Iran had authorized and filed this lawsuit in 2006, I think we could have stopped a lot of the sanctions, but the bottom line now is Iran is facing more sanctions. Again the European Union will be meeting again, I think in May, to impose more sanctions, and the Americans also want to impose more sanctions. So in my opinion, we have to at least stop that and I think we can. And then, [we have] all these threats of military attack being made against Iran by the United States, Israel, Britain and France and the acts of terrorism against Iran’s nuclear power facilities by means of the computer viruses which emanate from Israel, the United States and apparently Germany, and the assassination of your nuclear scientists by Israel and perhaps with the cooperation of the United States. So, the appropriate place we can deal with all this is the International Court of Justice.

Q: Do you think that the International Court of Justice will respond to Iran’s appeal for the lifting of the sanctions positively? Some political commentators believe that ICJ is dominated by the Western powers and cannot maintain an independent policy. Is that true?

A: Well, I think what we can do now is to get temporary restraining orders from the court to try to stop the U.S. and the European states from imposing more sanctions on Iran. I think we can get that for sure. And I also think we can get a temporary restraining order against the U.S., Israel, France, Britain and NATO states from attacking Iran. I think we can do that. Beyond that, it’s hard to predict that by the end of the day, what will happen. But I think we can do what I’ve outlined here. I’ve done this type of work for both Libya and Bosnia.

Key Words: Anti-Iran Sanctions, Lawsuit, Security Council, Nuclear Dossier, Human Rights, ICJ, Ordinary Civilians, Boyle 

 *Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 7) Franklin Lamb: International Law Is Overwhelmingly on the Side of Iran

*Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 6) Dan Kovalik: Unilateral Sanctions Are Disallowed UN Charter

*Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 5) James H. Fetzer: Anti-Iran Sanctions Violate International Law

*Anti-Iran sanctions (No. 4) Thierry Meyssan: Western Nations Suffer from the Anti-Iran Sanctions

*Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 3) E. Michael Jones: Sanctions Show US Foreign Policy Hypocrisy

*Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 2) Mike Gravel: Sanctions Are Illegal and Ineffective

*Anti-Iran Sanctions (No. 1) Kenneth O’Keefe: US Sanctions on Iran Tantamount to Collective Punishment