Zarif writes to UN chief on illegal sanctions amid coronavirus fight 

March 12, 2020 - 16:42

TEHRAN — In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the United States’ sanctions as a major obstacle to Iran’s battle against the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

In his letter Zarif urged an end to such and “illegal” sanctions.

Zarif said despite Iran’s scientific capabilities and the commitment that the country’s health system has shown to the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. sanctions on legal trade and the preconditions that the United States’ authorities have set recently so as to prevent the sale of medicine, medical equipment and humanitarian supplies have posed serious obstacles to the efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran.

Copies of the letter were also forwarded to directors of all international organizations and to Zarif’s foreign counterparts across the world, according to the Foreign Ministry website.

In his letter, the foreign minister enumerated examples of the U.S. measures against Iran, pointing to the effect of the secondary sanctions on Iran’s oil sales as well as the ban on private sector’s exports of other products and a consequent reduction in the ability of the government to provide subsidy for the basic commodities consumed by the Iranian citizens.

Following is the text of the letter:

I am writing to you concerning a matter of the greatest urgency. As you—and my counterparts across the world—are painfully aware, we are now officially amid a pandemic. Most of us have been affected by the spread of the highly contagious Covid19 viral disease, with my country among the worst impacted so far. 
While the virus ravages our cities and towns, our population—unlike those of other countries affected—suffer under the most severe and indiscriminate campaign of economic terrorism in history, imposed illegally and extra-territorially by the Government of the United States since it reneged on its commitments under Security Council Resolution 2231 in May 2018.  
Although our medical facilities, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are among the very finest in the world, we are stymied in our efforts to identify and treat our patients; in combatting the spread of the virus; and, ultimately, in defeating it, by the campaign of economic terrorism perpetrated by the Government of the United States. 
Beyond targeting our lawful trade with others, the illegal U.S. sanctions regime has impacted every sector of our economy, all while our people are told by the U.S. Secretary of State that their government must submit to outrageous outside diktat “if they want to eat”. Now, the same shameless U.S. official has gone as far as publicly holding medicine for Iranians to ransom, conditioning such trade on extraneous and extra-judicial demands. 
The Government of the United States’ general collective punishment of the Iranian people—including by depriving them from humanitarian trade, in contravention of repeated sloganeering to the contrary—is clear. What has hitherto, and unfortunately, been less clear to the international community is how U.S. economic terrorism is specifically–and directly—undermining our efforts to fight the Covid-19 epidemic in Iran.

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