The UK alleged that the Iranian oil nationalization act of 1951 was counter to a convention agreed upon by the (then) Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now BP) and the Imperial Government of Persia (now Iran) in 1933. This granted the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. a 60-year license to mine oil in 100,000 square miles (260,000 km2) of Iran in return for a percentage royalty.
On 26 May 1951, the UK took Iran to the International Court of Justice, demanding that the 1933 agreement be upheld and that Iran pay damages and compensation for disrupting the UK-incorporated company's profits.
On 22 July 1952, the ICJ decided that because Iran had conceded to ICJ jurisdiction only in cases involving treaties agreed upon after 1932 and as the only treaty cited by the UK after that date was between Iran and a foreign company (and not the UK itself), it had no jurisdiction in this matter (Iran's original contention). This was a main reason leading to the coup d'état in 1953.