0909 GMT April 05, 2020
"I would stress and insist to the international community to lift the sanctions on Iran," Khan told reporters on Friday, according to Press TV.
He added, "It is very unjust they are dealing with such a large outbreak on one side, and on the other they are facing international sanctions."
Imran Khan’s call echoed an outcry on national and international levels against US sanctions, with Russia, China and Greece as well as different medical organizations and rights groups urging the administration of US President Donald Trump to lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The speaker of Iran’s Health Ministry Kianoush Jahanpour said on Saturday that the total number of infections has reached 20,610 in the country, according to IRNA.
With 123 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the death toll from the virus has reached 1,556, he added, regretting that 996 new cases have been identified in the past 24 hours.
In a tweet on Saturday, US congresswoman Ilhan Omar once again called for the removal of sanctions against Iran, calling the bans ‘supervillain-level cruelty’ as the country struggles to deal with the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
In a similar tweet on March 14, she wrote, "We need to suspend these sanctions before more lives are lost".
26 organizations press Trump to lift sanctions
A coalition of 26 organizations, including civil rights groups, charities and think-tanks, has come together to urge the Trump administration to lift sanctions on Iran to help it fight its coronavirus outbreak.
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) led an effort to send a letter to Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling for a temporary suspension of sanctions.
The letter was signed by various organizations, including the liberal Jewish group J Street, think-tank International Crisis Group, Oxfam America, the non-profit Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"To help stem the continued spread of the virus inside Iran and beyond, we urge you to issue a time-bound suspension of those US sanctions that make it harder for ordinary Iranians to secure basic goods and services to weather the crisis," the letter read.
"Doing so would not just serve US interests in helping contain the further spread of the virus, but would also be a powerful humanitarian gesture to the more than 80 million Iranians suffering under the pandemic."
While the US administration claims there are no sanctions on medicine going to Iran, many banks and companies have refrained from taking part in any such ventures out of fear of getting caught up in US secondary sanctions.
While Iran has called on the United Nations to urge the US to temporarily lift sanctions, and China, Russia and Greece have called on the US to do so as well, Washington has remained obdurate in its "maximum pressure" campaign.
The US issued a new set of sanctions on Wednesday, aimed at the transport of petrochemicals from Iran.
Jamal Abdi, president of the NIAC, told Middle East Eye earlier this week that he was not surprised the administration was still "full speed ahead on sanctions", as Iran copes with a pandemic that grows deadlier every day.
"Based on the Trump Administration's own metrics, the massacre being inflicted on Iranians by the coronavirus is the most stunning victory yet for 'maximum pressure'," Abdi told the London-based news outlet.
The coalition of groups said the sanctions have damaged the country's public health sector by blocking the sale of medicine and medical supplies needed to combat the epidemic.
Sanctions have also more broadly impacted Iranians by closing down private businesses and forcing the value of Tehran's currency, the rial, to plummet.
The letter calls on the US to suspend all sanctions on Iran, including those on the country's oil and financial sectors, for a period of 120 days, to allow for the country to stave off economic devastation and fight the viral outbreak.
"Easing sanctions is one simple step that can be taken to serve the interests of the Iranian people and public health across the globe," the letter read.
‘Brutal US sanctions tarnishing America’s history’
In a message issued to the American people on Friday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said "brutal" US sanctions unilaterally imposed on the Iranian nation are robbing a great number of Iranians of health, jobs and sources of income.
He said, "At a time that the Iranian people are harmed by both the deadly coronavirus and the most brutal form of US economic terrorism in history, the US government is not willing to abandon its malicious policy of maximum pressure; and is thus in practice aiding the spread of this virus with its sanctions."
Rouhani urged the American people not to allow the current administration’s hostile attitude toward Iran to tarnish history of their country.
“The Iranian people value friendship and respect based on the principles of dignity and humanity and respond positively to overtures based on such values. Simultaneously, they are ready to resist pressure and threats, as they have heroically throughout history.”
The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a UN-endorsed nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
Tehran sued Washington at the International Court of Justice afterwards. The tribunal ruled that the US should lift its sanctions on humanitarian supplies.
The United States, which falsely claims that its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran does not stop the flow of humanitarian goods, imposed new sanctions this week.
The Trump administration blacklisted five companies based in the United Arab Emirates, three in mainland China, three in Hong Kong and one in South Africa for trade in Iran’s petrochemicals.
A petition calling on the British government and parliament to suspend sanctions against Iran for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic has already been launched.
“Sanctions against Iran should be lifted immediately to help its populace and prevent the global spread of infection,” the petition states.
You can sign the petition here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300109 which was launched following the coronavirus outbreak in Iran in February.
Qatar’s second consignment of medical aid
Qatar has sent its second cargo of medical aid to Iran to help the country in its fight against the spread of the virus, media reports said on Friday.
The consignment consists of seven tons of medical equipment and supplies.
Iran took delivery of the fist consignment on March 15. The aid dispatch comes upon directives from Qatar’s Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, according to Qatari media.