U.S. lying that sanctions exempt food, medicine: Iranian minister

October 22, 2019

TEHRAN - Iranian Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati said on Tuesday that the United States is lying that sanctions against Iran do not include food and medicine.

“Despite the United States’ claims that sanctions against Iran do not include food and medicine, what has happened in the past months show that importation of food and medicine to Iran is practically under sanctions,” he said during a meeting of the chamber of commerce.

“When banking transaction of a country is restricted, the possibility to transfer currency becomes very difficult. So, sanctions include food and medicine because even when they announce they have not imposed sanctions on food and medicine,” Agriculture Minister Hojjati explained.
“When banking transaction of a country is restricted, the possibility to transfer currency becomes very difficult. So, sanctions include food and medicine because even when they announce they have not imposed sanctions on food and medicine,” he explained.

However, he said that there is no concern about providing food and medicine for the people.

In a tweet on November 12, 2018 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that “the U.S. does not, and never did, sanction food and medicine. They are exempt from sanctions.”

Kianoush Jahanpour, spokesman for Iran’s Food and Drug Administration, told ISNA in an interview published on November 13, 2018 that the claim by Washington that medicine is exempt from sanctions is a “big clear lie”.

Sanctions include food and medicine and the only point is that these two items have not been mentioned in the sanctions list announced by the Trump administration, he said.

Farhad Ehteshamzad, the head of the Iran Auto Importers Association, has also told ISNA that foreign banks refrain from interacting with Iran, because they fear to be punished by the U.S. which also impedes importing certain commodities such as food and medicine.

Scientific Societies for Medical Sciences in Iran wrote a letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres in March 2019 condemning the U.S. sanctions against Iran, urging the international community to resist sanctions targeting “medical needs” and “humanitarian aid”.

“Scientific Societies for Medical Sciences in Iran call on int'l community to: condemn U.S. sanctions on Iran; strongly resist the targeting of medical needs [and] humanitarian aid; and thwart targeting of research [and] scientific advancement,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his twitter account in March 2019.

During a speech at an international conference on global economy and sanctions held at Alzahra University in Tehran on October 9, Zarif said that the U.S. sanctions and economic war on Iran have targeted the ordinary people’s health and livelihood.

During a speech at the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in September, Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh, Tehran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva, called the consequences of unilateral sanctions against Iran “crime against humanity”.

He urged the United Nations to take action in stopping the sanctions.

President Hassan Rouhani said in June that the U.S. sanctions are examples of “crime against humanity and economic terrorism” because they have targeted ordinary people’s “lives and needs”.

“It should not be said that the U.S. has imposed sanctions on us because they are not sanctions. They are a crime against humanity. They could be called sanctions if they targeted some of our sensitive industries, but they are a crime against humanity and economic terrorism when they target the people’s lives and needs,” Rouhani stated.

Humanitarian supplies are officially exempted from sanctions, but foreign banks and companies avoid all transactions with Iran for fear of being penalized.

“There’s no doubt that the lives of thousands of patients will be at risk,” Ahmad Ghavideh, of Iran’s haemophilia society told the Guardian by phone from Tehran in November 2018.
 
NA/PA

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