Tehran urges London to defy U.S. sanctions hampering coronavirus fight

March 17, 2020 - 15:10

TEHRAN — Tehran has urged London to defy the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran due to their negative impact on the Islamic Republic’ fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged Britain to defy the sanctions in accordance with its obligations under the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He made the remarks in a Monday phone talk with his British counterpart Dominic Raab.

Zarif further described the U.S. sanctions as an obstacle to Iran’s fight against the highly contagious virus.

He also thanked the European Union and the three EU parties to the JCPOA – Britain, France and Germany – for dispatching aid to Iran.

The phone conversation came shortly after the Iranian ambassador to the UK announced Britain has agreed to pay an outstanding £400 million debt it owes to Iran plus the interest.

“The legal process of this long-running case, which has been going on for more than 50 years, is nearing its end,” Hamid Baeidinejad said in an interview with Iranian newspaper Etemad, Press TV reported.

“The court has ordered the British government to pay the Iranian debt plus interest, and this cannot be changed. At the same time, the opposing lawyers have tried to use every legal opportunity to delay the practical execution of the court’s decision,” Baeidinejad added.

Earlier in the day, Zarif also raised the issue of U.S. sanctions in a separate phone conversation with the foreign minister of Croatia, the rotating president of the European Union.

In his phone talk with his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlic-Radman, Zarif emphasized that the EU must not abide by the U.S. unilateral and unlawful sanctions.

He said the EU should do this not only as a JCPOA obligation but also to prevent the deaths of innocent Iranians due to the cruel U.S. sanctions.

The Croatian foreign minister, in turn, expressed solidarity with the Iranian government and nation in their fight against the epidemic and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Hit by the U.S. sanctions, Iran has been trying to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus which so far has infected more than 16,000 people and killed about 1000 until Tuesday.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory disease that emerged in China last December and has spread around the world, halting industries, bringing travel to a standstill, closing schools, and forcing the cancellation of public events.

The virus has infected more than 182,000 people worldwide and killed more than 7,100. Nearly 80,000 people worldwide have recovered after being infected.

Observers say the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran are an “act of war” as they hamper Tehran’s efforts to counter the coronavirus outbreak.

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.