U.S. Sanctions Exacerbate the Coronavirus Crisis in Iran

Someone dies of coronavirus every ten minutes in Iran, according to the country’s health ministry. In addition, 50 new people become infected every hour. Iran has the third highest level of deaths from the coronavirus, behind Italy and China. Physicians are estimating that the death toll could reach as high as 3.5 million people. Unlike the other countries, Iran has been extremely starved of resources by U.S.-imposed economic sanctions.

The U.S.-led sanctions pressure companies and governments around the world not to engage trading economically with Iran, particularly for its oil. The goal is to destabilize the Iranian regime by starving the Iranian population, especially the poorest sectors of society. Since 2018, the Trump administration re-instituted sanctions by pulling out of Obama’s “Iran Nuclear Agreement,” which has pushed Iran into a deep recession. Because of this, Iran was facing a humanitarian crisis even before the coronavirus disaster.

But now, in spite of the enormous horror faced by the coronavirus, a new round of sanctions was imposed on Iranian this past Thursday, March 20. While the Iranian government bears responsibility for its incompetent response to the spread of the coronavirus, the crippling role of the U.S.-led sanctions has turned the outbreak into a catastrophe. The U.S. government says that humanitarian goods are technically exempted from any sanctions. The truth is that any medical equipment imported to Iran has greatly been slowed down because the Iranian central bank is barred from purchasing necessary medical supplies, and manufacturers have been made extremely cautious to do business with Iran in fear of U.S. sanctions. In a country overrun with severely ill people, there is a mad scramble to get adequate masks, surgical gowns, ventilators and other medical equipment.

According to Alfred de Zayas, former U.N. Special Rapporteur, the sanctions against Iran in the light of the coronavirus pandemic could be considered “genocidal.” This insanity must stop!

Featured image credit: Sringer/Anadolu Agency via Vox