Zarif: U.S. after blowing up Iran’s food, medicine payment channels

October 9, 2020 - 12:28

TEHRAN — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States is seeking to blow up Iran’s remaining channels to pay for food and medicine.

“Amid Covid19 pandemic, U.S. regime wants to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine,” Zarif tweeted on Thursday. “Iranians WILL survive this latest of cruelties.”

He described conspiring to starve the Iranian population as a “crime against humanity”, adding, “Culprits & enablers—who block our money—WILL face justice.”

The remarks came after the Trump administration announced it had imposed new sanctions on Iran’s financial sector in defiance of Washington’s European allies who warned of the humanitarian consequences of the sanctions on Iran’s fight against the coronavirus.

The new sanctions target the few remaining Iranian banks which were not subject to secondary sanctions.

In a tweet, U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo announced that the United States is sanctioning 18 major Iranian banks and identifying Iran’s financial sector.

The move will further deprive “the Islamic Republic of Iran of funds to carry out its support for terrorist activities and nuclear extortion that threatens the world,” Pompeo alleged.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the designation of 18 Iranian banks “reflects our commitment to stop illicit access to U.S. dollars” and that “today’s actions will continue to allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people.”

Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, described the sanctions as “sadism masquerading as foreign policy.”

“They won’t bring the Iranian government to its knees but will hurt ordinary people, encourage more smuggling and in the long run, undermine dollar-based sanctions,” she wrote on Twitter.

The new U.S. move is part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, which Trump adopted after he unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear agreement in May 2018.

Trump is also hoping to clinch a foreign policy victory before the U.S. presidential election, which is scheduled for November 3. In recent weeks his chances of defeating Democratic rival Joe Biden have gone down significantly.

Ever since the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran has ramped up its nuclear program and now has more than 10 times the amount of enriched uranium agreed under the JCPOA.

“Frustrated by humiliating failures & futility of ‘maximum pressure’, Bibi-Firsters lure Trump into doubling down on inhumane targeting of ordinary Iranians,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted on Thursday. 

“The same gang has carelessly gambled with America’s interests & reputation for past 4 years,” Khatibzadeh wrote. “Once again, they’ll lose.”

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of Bourse and Bazaar, a news and analysis source on Iran’s economy, wrote on Twitter that pharmaceutical exports to Iran through the Swiss had declined sharply since January.

“Pharma exports to Iran were already lower after Trump reimposed sanctions in Nov 2018 *and* have yet to recover after COVID-19 halted normal trade flows,” he wrote.


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