Zarif: U.S. ‘vengefully’ refusing to lift sanctions; all responsible for any destructive ramifications

March 19, 2020 - 10:17

TEHRAN – On the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif released a video on Wednesday to congratulate the Iranian nation, who is under the US’ tough sanctions and among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus, a happy and healthy year.

“At a time when we, Iranians, normally celebrate Nowruz, our New Year concurrent with the arrival of spring, we are faced with multiple and historic challenges. My country is among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus even as like other nations we are now learning how to better confront it,” he said.

Zarif added that the huge part of the danger Iranians are facing now is due to restrictions “unjustly” imposed on them by the United States government.

“Iran, today, is the most intensely sanctioned country in history, not in line with United Nations decisions but contrary to them. The economic siege imposed on us impedes all legitimate trade and deprives us of our own resources -- the ones necessary to address the needs of our people, including their health and livelihoods,” he noted.

He criticized the US’ draconian policy of maximum pressure against Iran, saying, “Even amid this pandemic, the US government has vengefully refused to lift its unlawful and collective punishment, making it virtually impossible for us to even buy medicine and medical equipment.”

He also took a swipe at other countries for bowing to US pressures and said, “The bigger tragedy is that many companies and countries who officially opposed these sanctions have chosen to comply with them, perhaps in hopes of avoiding the future wrath of the United States despite President Trump time and again proving that this is just wishful thinking.”

The top Iranian diplomat said that the battle against the fatal coronavirus pandemic was a collective job.

“Dear friends, allow me to be frank! We are all in this together. To better confront the virus, we need to better work together. Those who passively comply with the whims of unilateralist bullies must wake up to the reality that they are also responsible for the destructive ramifications of aggressive unilateralism.,” he stressed.

He, however, said he was confident that the Iranian nation “relying on millennium of civilization and unified national resilience will overcome these challenges and emerge as a stronger and more compassionate community.”

“If we are to make the world that will emerge from COVID19 a better one, it is vital that we seize the opportunity to forge a new path,” he said in conclusion.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 170 countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 8,000 people and infected over 200,000 others globally.

More than 3,200 have died and above 80,000 others been infected in China.

Iran has reported 1,135 fatalities and 17,361 cases of infection. 

Iran is battling the virus as it has been under the harshest ever sanctions by the US, which were reimposed against the country after Washington left a UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers in 2018.

Washington then began forcing others to toe its sanctions line. Britain, France, and Germany have stopped their transactions with the Islamic Republic, bowing under the pressure.

In late January, the United States and Switzerland announced the launch of a channel to ship food and medicine to Iran from the Scandinavian country.

The US has claimed that humanitarian supplies, including food and medicine, are exempt from anti-Iran sanctions, but the bans have deterred several foreign banks from doing any business with Tehran.

In contradictory policies , the US recently announced a new round of sanctions against Iran as part of its so-called "maximum pressure" campaign, a few days after it said that it had formally told Iran of Washington’s willingness to assist in unspecified ways through a message sent via Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran.

Iran says it does not count on the United States for help in its battle against the coronavirus because it does not trust Washington’s alleged offer of assistance.

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