Carleton University professor: U.S. refusal to ease sanctions on Iran ‘regrettable’

April 6, 2020 - 19:25

TEHRAN - Dane Rowlands, a professor at Carleton University, has said it is “regrettable” that the United States is refusing to ease sanctions on Iran while the country is fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran is one of the countries hit worst by the Coronavirus. As of Monday, April 6, the total number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus in Iran has reached 60,500, of whom 3,739 have died and 24,236 recovered.

“The United States can reduce restrictions and facilitate Iran’s access to medicine, however, the government of the United States does not prioritize this issue which is regrettable,” he told ILNA in an interview published on Monday.

He noted that innocent people are losing their lives in Iran due to lack of access to medicine resulting from U.S. sanctions.

Foreign ministers of the European Union have urged suspension of the U.S. sanctions against countries, including Iran, in the fight against the coronavirus.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters that the issue was discussed in a meeting on Friday, according to ISNA.

She noted that the sanctions must be removed when there is human rights urgency like outbreak of the coronavirus.

A UN human rights expert called on March 31 for lifting international sanctions against countries ranging from Iran to North Korea and Venezuela in coronavirus crisis, according to Reuters.

“The continued imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and, to a lesser degree, Zimbabwe, to name the most prominent instances, severely undermines the ordinary citizens’ fundamental right to sufficient and adequate food,” Hilal Elver, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said in a statement.

Elver, an independent expert, said that it was a matter of “humanitarian and practical urgency to lift unilateral economic sanctions immediately”.

In a letter to the G-20 economic powers on March 24, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for rolling back international sanctions regimes around the world. 

Guterres said sanctions are heightening the health risks for millions of people and weakening the global effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Foreign Policy reported.

“I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity, not exclusion,” he said.

“Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world,” the UN chief said.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, also said on March 24 that “in a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us.”

“At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended,” she said in a statement.

In a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) chief on Friday, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh said that the imposition and intensification of U.S. sanctions on Iran amidst the coronavirus pandemic amount to a “crime against humanity”.

NA/PA

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