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Iran Press TV

Iran's FM urges removal of unilateral US sanctions to help fight against virus epidemic

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 12 March 2020 3:21 PM

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has written a letter to the United Nations secretary general, urging lifting of the unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on the country, which have greatly hampered the Islamic Republic's fight against the new coronavirus epidemic.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, reported the letter in a tweet on Thursday, saying that copies of the letter addressed to Antonio Guterres were also sent to the heads of international organizations and Zarif's counterparts across the world.

Despite the high scientific standing of the Iranian health apparatus and its commitment to the ongoing fight against the coronavirus outbreak, the complications created by the US sanctions "have faced Iran's fight with the COVID-19 outbreak with serious impediments," Zarif said in his letter.

Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory disease first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The World Health Organization on Wednesday described the outbreak as a pandemic.

More than 126,000 people have been infected by the virus across the world and 4,630 have died, the vast majority of them in China, according to a Reuters tally.

Iran's Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state television on Thursday that 1,075 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been detected across the country in the last 24 hours, which brings the total number of infected people to 10,075. He also put the death toll at 429.

Elsewhere in his letter, Zarif said the US' renewed sanctions had come in the way of legal trade with Iran amid the outbreak, adding that American officials have recently set some preconditions with the aim of preventing sales of medicine, medical equipment, and humanitarian commodities to the Islamic Republic.

The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a UN-endorsed nuclear agreement with 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 letter by the Iranian foreign minister then offered a breakdown of how else the US' adversarial sanctions were targeting Iran's economy.

Zarif pointed to US sanctions on Iran's oil sales and the Iranian private sector's export activities, noting that the restrictions are reducing the Iranian government's ability to provide Iranians with subsidies on staples, while also weakening the private sector's production and job creation capabilities.

Zarif described the sanctions preventing Iran's purchase of medicine and medical equipment as "multi-layered" bans targeting the financial, transportation, insurance, and banking sectors.

Through its draconian measures, the US is trying to bring Iran's aviation activities to a halt by denying its aviation sector navigation equipment and software, Zarif said.

Most recently, American companies have also been stonewalling Iran's access to the information technology tools that would help it confront the virus, he noted.

Zarif also released a list of medical equipment that Iran urgently needs in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak, saying that although "Iranian care personnel are courageously battling #COVID19 on frontlines, their efforts are stymied by vast shortages caused by restrictions on our people's access to medicine/equipment"

The US success in bringing Iran under the pressure was to some extent rooted in the international community's inaction in the face of Washington's illegal measures, the top diplomat remarked in the letter.

The letter finally demanded an immediate end to the US acts of economic terrorism against the Iranian people. It reminded the UN and its member states of their duty to accommodate the Iranian people and government's request for cessation of the US policy towards Iran, and urged that the UN chief circulate the letter at the Security Council and the General Assembly.

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