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US continues sanctions against Iran despite coronavirus ravaging both nations

Published on 23/03/20 at 10:08am

The Trump administration is not relaxing sanctions on Iran, despite the country having one of the highest death tolls from coronavirus.

Iran currently has over 1,700 deaths from the virus and over 21,000 infected. While American sanctions do not directly target Iran’s medical industry, it has always taken a hit due to most international banks not doing business with the country.

Washington has offered humanitarian assistance to the Iran, but did not offer to relax the sanctions. The offer was rejected by President Hassan Rouhani today, who said: “American leaders are lying, if they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions. Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak. You have blocked Iran's oil exports; you have stopped Iran's banking transactions. Your help offer is the biggest lie in the history.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, tweeted: “U.S. is NOT listening, impeding global fight against #COVID19. The ONLY remedy: DEFY U.S. mass punishment. MORAL & PRAGMATIC imperative.”

The US has received widespread condemnation for it decision to keep sanctions and for allegedly contemplating military action against the country during the COVID-19 global pandemic. On Saturday, The New York Times reported that Pompeo and the new acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, argued that the US should consider a direct strike on Iran, possibly hitting its navy, to bring them to the negotiating table over their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The tensions between the two countries have continually ramped up since Trump took office in January 2017. In 2018, the US exited the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and in 2020 they assassinated Quds Force Commander General Qassam Soleimani in what they claimed was retaliation for alleged Iranian involvement in attacks against the US in Iraq. Iran responded by launching a missile attack on two Iraqi bases where 109 US soldiers suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Conor Kavanagh

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