The Trump administration threatened sanctions Monday if the International Criminal Court in The Hague carries out an investigation into allegations of war crimes by U.S. military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan.
A speech by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton at the conservative Federalist Society in Washington took a hard stance against the court. It said the ICC should not have jurisdiction over people from the United States or other nations that never ratified the treaty that created the court.
The ICC began operation in 2002 and was designed to be permanent and independent of national governments as it investigated war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Bolton says the United States will not cooperate with the ICC, and that if it does investigate U.S. actions in Afghanistan then the Trump administration will consider travel bans, asset freezes and possible prosecution in U.S. courts for the judges and prosecutors involved in the probe.
Last year, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested judicial authorization to investigate allegations of misconduct by members of the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The alleged war crimes involve reports from secret detention facilities in Afghanistan and on the territory of other nations who are party to the ICC, particularly between 2003 and 2004.
The Pentagon objected to the possible probe and said it was committed to complying with the laws of war.
Bolton also announced in his speech Monday that the State Department is shutting down a Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington in response to Palestinian efforts to have the court prosecute Israeli actions.
The Trump administration initially announced it would close the office last year for the same reason, but later reversed its decision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the international court to investigate and prosecute Israeli officials for “their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.”