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Biden calls for US sanctions relief on Iran amid coronavirus outbreak

Former US vice president and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden has called on the Trump administration to immediately lift Iran sanctions which have hampered Iran’s efforts to curb the coronavirus.

In a statement on Thursday, Biden highlighted Iran’s struggle “to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world” and that the “Iranian people are hurting desperately.”

The sanctions were reinstated in 2018 after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Biden added that “it makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failed strategy with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance. Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people.”

Iran says US “medical terrorism” against Iranians through imposing toughest ever sanctions on the country is leading to a “humanitarian catastrophe” as it makes it “impossible” for ordinary people to have access to essential drugs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden suggested issuing “broad licenses” to pharmaceutical and medical device companies as a means to facilitate provision of medical treatment by international banks, transportation firms and insurers and also supplying groups and international aid organizations with new sanctions guidance that would inform them as how to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, more than 30 members of the US Congress — including Senators Bernie Sanders and Edward J. Markey as well as Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging the suspension of US sanction on Iran as a humanitarian gesture to 80 million Iranian people at this crucial time.

Other countries such as China and Russia have also urged the Trump administration to lift illegal bans on Iran. Russian foreign ministry called the sanctions “anti-human” and that such sanctions prevent effective fight against the lethal virus.