Iran facing food, medicine sanctions for years, says ex-MP

April 5, 2020 - 23:16

TEHRAN — A former lawmaker says despite the United States’ rhetoric, Iran has been facing food and medicine sanctions for years.

“Coronavirus exposed the [U.S.] human rights claims as mere political ploy rather than a civilizational reality,” ISNA on Sunday quoted Iraj Nadimi as saying.

Nadimi said the current circumstances showed to the world that the U.S. is preventing Iranians from access to healthcare equipment.

“Naturally, the sanctions shouldn’t have targeted medicine and food, but in spite of the United States’ rhetoric, Iran has not been able to have transparent access to global medicine and healthcare [equipment] due to financial and banking problems,” he stated.

As of Sunday, 58,226 Iranians had tested positive for the coronavirus and 3,603 had lost their lives due to the deadly virus.

The United States has refused to lift illegal sanctions on Iran and even tightened them several times in recent weeks, hampering Iran's efforts to contain the virus as Washington restricts Tehran's access to life-saving medications and medical equipment.

In a letter to Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday, Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN office in Geneva Esmaeil Baqaei Hamaneh said medical sanctions by the United States government against the Islamic Republic amount to an “unprecedented threat” to global public health.

According to Press TV, Baqaei Hamaneh said the imposition of the cruel and illegal sanctions on Iran, which has resulted in the ordinary people being denied access to medicine and medical equipment and services, clearly exemplifies a “crime against humanity”.

He added that the sanctions have blocked Iran’s banking interaction with other countries in order to buy commodities required in the fight against the coronavirus and warned that the illegal restrictions are a serious threat to Tehran’s efforts to battle and contain the virus.

Last month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the U.S. as “the evilest enemy of the Iranian nation,” saying the U.S. is accused of producing the virus.

“I do not know how true this accusation is, but when such an accusation is made, which wise person will ask for your help?” he asked.

Ayatollah Khamenei also ordered Iran’s military chief to establish a “health and treatment base” to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Since there is some evidence that this incident might be a ‘biological attack’, this measure could be also some form of biological defense drill, which would add to national power and strength [of the country],” he said.

Last week, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said U.S. sanctions have made it “impossible” for Iranians to have access to essential drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic, warning that the bans were leading to a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

“The illegal blockade of Iran’s financial resources by the sweeping U.S. sanctions makes access to drugs and medical equipment impossible,” Zarif wrote in an op-ed titled “Fight the Virus, Not Us” published in the Russian business newspaper Kommersant.

“This is leading to a humanitarian catastrophe,” the top diplomat warned, noting that Washington’s campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ on Tehran undermines the country’s efforts in treating COVID-19 patients and slowing down the spread of the deadly virus.

Zarif stressed that the threat of U.S. sanctions forces banks to avoid dealing with Iran and prompts European medical companies to refuse to sell vital equipment to Tehran.

“The world community must come to its senses and help Iran against economic, medical and drug terrorism,” Zarif wrote.

In his op-ed, Zarif argued that Tehran has a “strong” healthcare system, but severe sanctions by Washington are draining its finances. “The American policy of maximum pressure hampers Iranian exports, while Iran has fewer and fewer sources of investment.”

MH/PA

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