Free Case Study Sample on Oil Platform Event: US Response to Iran's Attack in 1987-88

Paper Type:  Case study
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1227 Words
Date:  2023-11-02


The Oil Platform event occurred during the1980 to 1988, Iran and Iraq’s Tanker War that prompted the attack of Kuwait commercial and military vessels (International Court of Justice, 2003). The vessel re-flag process involved the United States; however, Iran attacked the escort vessels in 1987 and 1988 with a missile damaging the ship injuring more than five crew members. The attack prompted US military response that led to the destruction of Iran’s oil platforms. The Iran Republic, on 2/11/1992, filed a case against the US accusing the US navy of attacking and destroying the oil platforms (International Court of Justice, 2003). According to the Islamic Republic, the court jurisdiction was upon the Treaty of Amity, Consular Rights and Economic Relations providence between the US and the Iran Republic.

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Based on the application instituted by Iran, the US was accused of breaching the fundamental agreement of both international law and the 1955/08/15 Treaty of Amity by attacking offshore oil platforms operated by the Iran Oil Company for commercial purposes (International Court of Justice, 2003). The court president extended the pleading time-limits to two subsequent orders. Later on 1993/12/16, the US used the extended time-limit framework and filed a Counter-Memorial preliminary objection to the pleaded jurisdiction. According to the International Court of Justice (2003), the court suspended the merits proceeding using Article 79, para.3 and fixed 1994/July/1 as the valid time for the Republic of Iran to present written submission and observation on the US objection.

Outlined Facts of the Case

There are two essential facts outlined in the case. First, the US Navy attacked and destroyed the oil platforms as accused and the Republic of Iran. Second, Iran participated in the 1987 and 1988 Persian Gulf by firing a missile that destroyed naval escort vessels resulting in the injury of six members of the crew (International Court of Justice, 2003). Firstly, the court found that the Iran military fired the two missiles that destroyed Sea Isle City and naval escort vessels injuring the US crew during the Tanker War. According to the US preliminary objection, the case merits did not give the court any prosecution jurisdiction; however, the court rejected this objection on 1996/12/12, arguing that the treaty could not limit court jurisdiction (International Court of Justice, 2003. Additionally, the 1997/5/23 US’s Counter-Claim requested the court for an adjudge claiming that the Iran military action at Gulf mines breached Article X of Amity Treaty, Consular Rights and Economic Regulations governing both countries (International Court of Justice, 2003). Despite the challenge presented by Iran using Paragraph 1 of Article 80 that requires counter-claim to have a close connection with the party's matter, the court rejected the challenge holding that the counter-claim had a secure connection with the issue before the count.

Secondly, Iran oil platforms were destroyed during the US attack; the court upheld that the destruction may have posed a significant effect on Iranian oil export trade interfering with the freedom of commerce protected by paragraph 1 of Article X (International Court of Justice, 2003). The dispute presented compromised paragraph 2 of the Article XX1; thus, the argument could be entertained by court jurisdiction. During the US's first attack, there was no evidence of oil trade between the countries and the American authorities had imposed an embargo that suspected the oil trade (International Court of Justice, 2003). Based on these facts, the court dismissed the claims that the US had breached the 1955 Treaty’s Article X, paragraph 1 stated obligations. Additionally, the court rejected the claims that the Iran attack infringed freedom of navigation and commerce in the parties' territories after discovering that the attacked ships were engaged in neither navigation nor commerce (International Court of Justice, 2003). Thus, the reparation counter-claim presented by the US was rejected based on the availed evidence.

Position of the Parties

Firstly, Iran disputed that by attacking the oil platforms, the US violated the commerce freedom protected by the Amity Treaty of 1955, Consular Rights and Economic Regulations (International Court of Justice, 2003). The position of the United States to Iran dispute was contrary, and it held that the court had no jurisdiction to the instituted proceedings. However, the US preliminary objection was rejected based on the 1955 Treaty Article XXI, paragraph 2 that entertained the presented claims; the US reinforced its position by filing a counter-memorial (International Court of Justice, 2003). In the counter-memorial, the US requested for court declaration and adjudged on the Iran Persian Gulf attack that, according to its stance, had breached Article X of the Amity Treaty. Secondly, the issue before the court was to establish whether the US violated the commerce freedom provided by the Amity Treaty, Consular Rights and Economic Relations signed by the two nations (International Court of Justice, 2003). Additionally, the court had jurisdiction to establish if the claims of self-defense were authentic in accordance with international law. Lastly, based on the issue, the two parties accused each other of violating the trading terms, rules, and regulations outlined in the treaty.

To Court Reasoning and Conclusion

The court confirmed its jurisdiction to Iran claims that Article X, Para.1 was violated during the attack; this reason was faced by the preliminary objection of the United States arguing that the court had no jurisdiction over the case merits (International Court of Justice, 2003). Additionally, the court dismissed Iran’s claim that the counter-memorial argument was not directly related to the issue presented by reinforcing its sentiments the counter0memorial had adhered to Article 80, Para. 1 of the international court rule. The court reasoning called for the reply and rejoinder from Iran and the US, respectively, since the claim concurred with the held court proceedings. The 6th November 2003 court concluded that the US had violated the 1955 Amity Treaty, Consular Rights, and Economic regulations triggered distinct opinions from the US where arguments of self-defense were discussed in detail (International Court of Justice, 2003). The United States argued that it had previously complained to the UN Security Council about the progressive attack by Iran; the court also dismissed this on the basis that the US did not provide conclusive evidence underlined in the self-defense regulations. The court reasoning and conclusion prompted conflicting opinions between the parties.


Based on my opinion, while addressing the Oil Platforms case, the court indulged in solving length and substantial issues that were not necessary in establishing the final judgment of the case. Notably, as a matter of form, an excursion is regrettable. In many cases, court statements and opinions are used to suggest unsupported and new limitations to the state's self-defense; however, the substantial limitations proposed might be dangerous since they enlarge the nation's ability to defend itself through armed attacks. According to international law, the self-defense should be applied during target attacks and indiscriminate after an overall threat is measured and attack gravity established (International Court of Justice, 2003). Iran's attack did not involve deadly force; thus, a counter-attack was unessential since the attack never met the self-defense gravity standards stated in international law. Based on the presented circumstances, the settled principles helped in dismissing the US assumptions that the court used unnecessary and general statements to make the final judgment. Lastly, the US needs to be encouraged to adhere to the stipulations of international law; rather than following what it perceives as the correct interpretation of the same law.


International Court of Justice. (2003). Islamic Republic of Iran V. United States of America Oil Platforms: Overview of the Case. LESS

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Free Case Study Sample on Oil Platform Event: US Response to Iran's Attack in 1987-88. (2023, Nov 02). Retrieved from

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