Iran urges US to remove unilateral sanctions on Tehran amid coronavirus pandemic [The Nation] 06 Apr, 2020

On Saturday, Iran’s ambassador to Belgium Gholamhossein Dehghani underscored that the US’ anti-Iranian sanctions “undermine Tehran's ability to effectively fight the virus in the long run without international support”. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has urged Washington to scrap its sanctions against Tehran amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Iran has never asked and will not ask America to help Tehran in its fight against the outbreak”, he added, accusing the US of “trying to force Tehran to accept negotiations with America”. The statement comes after the Iranian ambassador to Belgium, Gholamhossein Dehghani, wrote in a letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell last week that the US sanctions are drastically hindering Iran’s ability to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than 3,000 people in the country. "The US unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed on Iran under the guise of the maximum pressure campaign undermine Iran's ability to effectively fight the virus in the long run without international support,” the letter read. The letter followed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praising last month the Islamic Republic’s efforts to fight the coronavirus in the face of the US sanctions. “All countries in the world are currently battling with the virus, but our situation is different from theirs", he said. "The capabilities and measures taken by the government in fighting the coronavirus in the face of the US maximum pressure and the inhuman impacts of the sanctions are already remarkable even when compared with the measures taken by other countries”, he pointed out. Rouhani emphasised that the renewed US sanctions on the Islamic Republic have "caused about $200 billion in direct damages to the Iranian economy in less than two years". Also in March, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called for stopping observing the US sanctions against Iran as the world faces the coronavirus fallout, describing it as a moral duty. His remarks were preceded by several US congressmen signing a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in which they asked to suspend the sanctions against Iran, which remains one of the most COVID-19 affected countries, with more than 55,700 confirmed cases and 3,452 deaths. In mid-2018, the US reimposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran that were waived under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, after accusing Tehran of breaching what is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

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