1226 GMT April 04, 2020
The International alarm was once again raised over the negative impacts of US draconian sanctions on Iran’s effort to fight the coronavirus spread, this time by the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations who said the embargoes have made the situation even worse for Iranian people.
Zhang Jun made the remarks in a Twitter post on Tuesday to have joined the international campaign – already seeing the likes of the European Union (EU), his respective country, Russia, Pakistan, Greece, the UK and American officials and organizations as it members – voicing concerns about the adverse effects of the sanctions on Iran amid the coronavirus spread in the country and their knock-on impacts on global efforts to contain the pandemic.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran. The sanctions have hindered, among many other things, the delivery of international humanitarian aid, drugs and medical equipment to Iran, particularly, now that the country is in a fight against the coronavirus.
The coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province late last year and is currently affecting a large number of countries and territories across the globe. It has infected and killed people in a large number of the countries.
"Iranian people are suffering severely from the pandemic. The unilateral sanctions made the situation even worse,” the Chinese diplomat’s Twitter post reads.
On Tuesday, the speaker of Iran’s Health Ministry, Kianoush Jahanpour, said the total number of infections has reached 24,811 in the country, according to IRNA.
With 122 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the death toll from the virus has reached 1,934, he added, regretting that 1,762 new cases have been identified in the past 24 hours. Jahanpour put the number of the recovered patients at 8,931.
On Monday, The EU urged the international community to send humanitarian aid to Iran to help its coronavirus fight, arguing that such steps would not breach US sanctions.
The bloc is preparing to send €20 million worth of humanitarian aid to Iran, where new coronavirus has killed more than 1,800 people, making it one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, AFP reported.
Josep Borrell, the EU's chief diplomat, said Brussels would support requests for help made by Iran and Venezuela – also heavily sanctioned – to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"We are going to support this request because these countries are in a very difficult situation mainly due to the US sanctions that prevent them from having income by selling their oil," Borrell said after talks with EU foreign ministers.
Tehran and Caracas are both under strict US sanctions aimed at starving their governments of income, but Borrell said that shipments of food, medicine and medical equipment should not be affected.
"This has to be reaffirmed because many believe that if they participate in this kind of humanitarian trade they can be sanctioned," he said.
"This is not the case but it has to be reaffirmed in order for everybody to understand that they can participate in this kind of humanitarian help."
The EU and US have been at loggerheads over Iran since Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran.
As part of international efforts to support Iran in the fight against the virus, so far, countries such as Russia, China, Pakistan and Greece have publically called on the US to lift its sanctions. This comes as the UK has also been reported to be privately pressing the US to ease the sanctions on Iran, according to theguardian.com.
Moreover, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as well as 25 other national organizations – including NIAC Action, Truman National Security Project, Move On, Win Without War, and Ploughshares Fund – have called on Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to loosen the administration’s crippling sanctions on Iran in order to aid the Iranian people’s fight against the virus.
Earlier, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar once again called for the removal of Washington’s sanctions on Tehran, saying Keeping them in place under the present circumstances where Iran is in fight with the new coronavirus spread is just supervillain-level cruelty.
The Muslim congresswoman made the remark in a Twitter post after Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iranian affairs, told reporters that Washington would continue its so-called maximum pressure campaign against Tehran despite the coronavirus outbreak, claiming, "US sanctions are not preventing aid from getting to Iran."
In addition, 25 US organizations as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations have called on Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to loosen the administration’s crippling sanctions on Iran in order to aid the Iranian people’s fight against the virus.
This comes as in defiance of the international calls for the removal of the sanctions, Pompeo earlier said that Washington had blacklisted three Iranian entities for engaging in what he called “significant transactions” to trade in Iranian petrochemicals.
While he did not name any firms or individuals, Pompeo said the measure included blacklisting Iran’s armed forces social security investment company and its director for investing in the sanctioned entities.
In a separate statement, the US Commerce Department also said it would boycott a number of entities, including five Iranian nuclear scientists, for aiding Tehran’s nuclear program.