Published On: Tue, Mar 31st, 2020

US sanctions on life-saving drugs are leading Iran into a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ as pandemic rages – Zarif

US sanctions make it “impossible” for regular Iranians to have access to essential drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic, the republic’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said.

“The illegal blockade of Iran’s financial resources by the sweeping US sanctions makes access to drugs and medical equipment impossible,” Zarif wrote, in an op-ed titled “Fight the virus, not us” published by Russian business newspaper Kommersant on Monday.

“This is leading to a humanitarian catastrophe,” the diplomat warned, noting that Washington’s campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ on Tehran undermines the Islamic republic’s efforts in treating Covid-19 patients and slowing down the spread of the deadly virus.

Zarif stressed that the threat of US sanctions forces banks to avoid dealing with Iran and prompts European medical companies to refuse to sell vital equipment to Tehran. “The world community must come to its senses and help Iran against economic, medical and drug terrorism,” Zarif wrote.

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Iran remains one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, with nearly 41,500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 2,750 deaths. Officials in Tehran have sounded the alarm that US sanctions not only hit the nation’s healthcare but also take a toll on the economy, ultimately hurting ordinary Iranians.

The raging pandemic did not stop the US from ramping up sanctions against Iran. The most recent batch of restrictions was imposed last week. The US had earlier stated that the sanctions’ goal is to torpedo Iran’s oil trade, among other things.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Iranian leadership “an accomplice” of the coronavirus, accusing it of incompetence in handling the outbreak.

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In his op-ed, Zarif argued that Tehran has a “strong” healthcare system, but severe sanctions by Washington are decimating its finances. “The American policy of maximum pressure hampers Iranian exports, while Iran has fewer and fewer sources of investment,” he wrote.

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