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US sanctions leading to ‘humanitarian catastrophe’: Iran’s Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said US sanctions have made it “impossible” for Iranians to have access to essential drugs during the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that the bans are leading to a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

According to Tasnim news agency, Zarif wrote, in an op-ed titled “Fight the virus, not us” published by Russian business newspaper Kommersant on Monday “The illegal blockade of Iran’s financial resources by the sweeping US sanctions makes access to drugs and medical equipment impossible.”

“This is leading to a humanitarian catastrophe,” the top diplomat warned, noting that Washington’s campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ on Tehran undermines the country’s efforts in treating Covid-19 patients and slowing down the spread of the deadly virus.

Zarif stressed that the threat of US sanctions forces banks to avoid dealing with Iran and prompts European medical companies to refuse to sell vital equipment to Tehran.

“The world community must come to its senses and help Iran against economic, medical and drug terrorism,” Zarif wrote.

In his op-ed, Zarif argued that Tehran has a “strong” healthcare system, but severe sanctions by Washington are decimating its finances. “The American policy of maximum pressure hampers Iranian exports, while Iran has fewer and fewer sources of investment,” he wrote.

The United States has refused to lift sanctions on Iran and even tightened them several times in recent weeks, making it almost impossible for the Islamic Republic to access life-saving medications and medical equipment.

Iran says the unilateral US sanctions imposed on the country have seriously hampered its fight against the pandemic.