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Iran Complains About Sanctions And Medicine While Silent On Its Own Shortcomings

Iranians shop at a drugstore at the Nikan hospital in Tehran on September 11, 2018. - Judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague unanimously ruled Washington should remove barriers to "the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical d
Iranians shop at a drugstore at the Nikan hospital in Tehran on September 11, 2018. - Judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague unanimously ruled Washington should remove barriers to "the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical d

Iranian Medical Council officials have warned about the negative impact of U.S. sanctions on the availability of medicine and medical equipment in Iran.

In a letter to UN Chief Antonio Guterres, Dr. Iraj Fazel and Dr. Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi wrote that US sanctions on Iran's international trade have "seriously and adversely affected Iran's ability to access medical services and equipment."

The claim is made while U.S. officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iran Action Group Chief Brian Hook have said repeatedly that US sanctions do not target the export of medicine and medical supplies to Iran.

U.S. officials insist that sanctions are not against the people of Iran and that they are meant to change the behavior of the Iranian government.

Some Iranian activists abroad have warned in the past that the Islamic Republic takes advantage of sanctions to conceal its incapability and mismanagement, in cases such as running an efficient healthcare system.

The Iranian Medical Council Officials in their letter called US sanctions on Iran’s trade "illegal," adding that they would do their best to increase international awareness of the impact of sanctions on procuring medicine for Iranians.

They also called for "an immediate humanitarian solution to put an end to this problem."

Pompeo has recently said in an interview with the BBC's Persian TV that the United States has not imposed any sanctions on food and medicine for Iran. "Not only are the transactions themselves exempted – that is, the transactions in medicine, for example – but the financial transactions connected to that activity also are authorized," Pompeo said. He added that it was up to the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to spend the country's wealth on providing food and medicine, or to invest in expanding its influence in the region.

The United States has repeatedly asserted that the sanction do not target humanitarian goods.

Previously, while hearing an Iranian government's complaint against the United States, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, ruled that the US should nullify those sanctions that deprived the Iranian people of essential needs and aviation safety.

A tweeter user opined that it is the Islamic Republic that has sanctioned importing medicine because it has used a ship allocated to shipping medical supplies to carry supplies for the Lebanese Hezbollah and Assad's regime in Syria.

Critics, including Iranian activists abroad, have insisted that the Islamic Republic should be held accountable for shortcomings resulting from international sanctions, as these are foremost the outcome of its unacceptable behaviour, including supporting terrorism and proliferating missiles.

Others have accused Iranian officials of profiteering using the pretext of sanctions, by selling often low-quality medicine procured from dubious sources at high prices in government owned pharmacies and at the same time fuelling the price rise that inevitably includes essential goods such as medicine by not being able to control the markets.

On Social media, Zahra Dizaji tweeted that "Certainly there is no sanctions against medicine, but it is not correct to say that sanctions have not created problems for importing medicine."

Another user, Maziar, reminded that banking transactions for importing medicine are not subject to sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic has been criticized by many Iranians during various protests in the past year for sending large amounts of medical supplies to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa while Iranians are suffering from shortages of the same medicines and equipment in the country.

Cutting off Iran's banking system from the world banking network has created problems for importing goods from abroad.

According to a Reuters report the sanctions imposed in 2012, cut Iran's medical imports from the United States by 50 percent.

But in the same period, the Islamic Republic under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spent the budget allocated to importing medical supply on buying luxury goods and irrelevant items from countries such as China. Ahmadinejad dismissed his Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi in 2012 after she protested against mismanagement and mishandling of government funds that should have been spent on providing medicine and medical supplies.