Calls to end the “immoral” and “inhuman” US sanctions on Iran are growing worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic causes havoc in the Islamic Republic.
The worst hit country in the Middle East, some 988 people have died across Iran so far. At least 16,169 have been infected, while 5,389 have recovered, according to Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
He also revealed that more than 14 million people across the country had been tested already.
The US, meanwhile, has tested less than 60,000 people so far, according to Admiral Brett Giroir, member of the Coronavirus task force.
The Iranian health minister said on March 16 that a significant number of people in Iran had been screened over the past four days via the Health Ministry’s online platform – salamat.gov.ir – and the rest through phone calls, electronic health dossiers and two online health screening systems run by the ministry.
“Out of the 14 million monitored for the coronavirus infection, some 73,435 had symptoms. After evaluations, 3,415 of them were referred to hospitals, out of whom 1,605 were hospitalized and the remaining were either discharged with prescriptions or sent to other centers,” he noted.
In Iran, some leading figures in government and parliament have also been infected leading to speculation that this may be part of the US biowarfare on the Islamic Republic.
Among those that have died are Mohammad Mirmohammadi, advisor to the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Ayatullah Hadi Khosroshahi, a former ambassador to the Vatican, and Ayatullah Abtahi Golpayegani.
Among those infected are some 15 percent members of parliament, Dr Ali Akbar Velayeti, former foreign minister and advisor to the Rahbar, and Senior Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri.
Referring to these alarming figures, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that US sanctions are “literally” taking lives in Iran in the midst of a fight to rein in a coronavirus outbreak.
In a post on his Twitter account today, the Iranian foreign minister called on world states to join “a growing global campaign” to defy the “unlawful” restrictive measures.
He said Washington’s sanctions have “drained the country’s economic resources” and are impairing its ability to fight the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
“They [sanctions] literally kill innocents. It is immoral to observe them: doing so has never saved anyone from future US wrath,” Dr. Zarif added.
Both China and Russia have denounced US sanctions on Iran amid the coronavirus pandemic.
China has denounced US sanctions on Iran as “immoral” and demanded they must be lifted as soon as possible.
Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing on March 16, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geng Shuang, said the US must lift all sanctions on Iran to ensure that the country receives timely humanitarian aid to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that it would be immoral to keep sanctions in force at a time when the fight against the virus in Iran “has entered a crucial stage.”
Russia, too, has called for lifting US sanctions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Washington’s “inhuman” sanctions against Iran in the middle of its battle against the deadly coronavirus were creating a barrier to fight the virus.
“Illegal unilateral US sanctions, imposed since May 2018 as part of the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, are a powerful obstacle to effective fight against the infection,” the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.
In an interview with Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press on March 16, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also called for lifting sanctions against Iran. He said political and economic considerations should be set aside at this time of crisis.
On March 12, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had written to the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres, urging the lifting of unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed by the US on Tehran.
He said US sanctions have greatly hampered the Islamic Republic’s fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
Copies of the letter were also sent to the heads of international organizations and Dr. Zarif’s counterparts across the world.
Meanwhile, Representative Ilhan Omar said US sanctions on Iran are making its coronavirus crisis worse. She called for them to be suspended.
“We need to suspend these sanctions before more lives are lost,” Ilhan Omar wrote on her Twitter account.