“The world is helpless,” Mahathir says

Malaysian PM slams U.S. unilateral sanctions as ‘privilege of the rich and powerful’

September 28, 2019 - 20:54

TEHRAN – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad has criticized the United States for trying to force all countries to stop doing business with Iran.

“We do not know under what laws sanctions are applied. It appears to be the privilege of the rich and the powerful,” Mahathir said, addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

According to the AFP, the outspoken 94-year-old leader urged greater international control of sanctions, saying, “If you want to have sanctions, let us have a law to govern them.”

“The fact is that when sanctions are applied to a country, other countries get sanctioned as well. Malaysia and many others lost a big market when sanctions were applied on Iran.”

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018. He has since imposed more than 1,000 individual sanctions on Tehran, which culminated with an oil embargo this May. Zarif himself is also sanctioned.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury slapped sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and the country’s sovereign wealth fund, a move Trump described as the “highest level of sanctions”.

Speaking to reporters after his address, Mahathir acknowledged that Malaysian firms had little choice but to comply for fear of being hit by U.S. sanctions.

“Generally, the world is helpless,” he said.

Mahathir also renewed his criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade pact that includes Malaysia but from which Trump pulled the United States.

“Rich companies had given themselves the power to sue governments. The terms of the agreement were drawn up by them -- and they are not all like Bill Gates, who spends some money on charity,” he said.

“Most are bent on exploiting the power money gives them,” he said.


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