Two dozen American and European former senior officials have urged President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday to relieve sanctions imposed on Iran as part of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and its related disease COVID-19.
In their statement on April 6, the former senior diplomats and security leaders say that relieving the sanctions on Tehran could "potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives in Iran."
The signatories to the letter, include members of President Bill Clinton's administration including Secretary of Defense William Cohen (1997-2001), Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), and Secretary of Defense under President Barak Obama Chuck Hagel (20013-15), High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (2014-2019), and former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix (2000-3)
"Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended every aspect of the global economy and human lives and health, it has drastically changed the impact of a U.S. policy designed for a different purpose and conditions," the statement says, adding, "Just because Iran has managed the crisis badly, that does not make its humanitarian needs and our security ones any less. Targeted sanctions relief would be both morally right and serve the health and security interests of the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world", the statement says.
Meanwhile, the signatories have proposed five "targeted steps", and possibly more later, towards easing U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The steps they recommend include "expanding the scope of humanitarian exemptions under U.S. sanctions specifically to include devices and equipment necessary to effectively combat COVID-19, providing extra resources to the U.S. treasury to process sanctions-waiver requests, and sending general Treasury comfort letters to European banks, shipping firms and insurers", Guardian reported.
The clergy-dominated Iran is one of the world’s coronavirus epicenters, with almost 60,000 officially confirmed cases and at least 3,600 deaths.
In the meantime, data exclusively collected by Radio Farda show the real figures are much higher.
According to the statement, Iranians are facing "one of their country’s darkest times in living memory. Reaching across borders to save lives is imperative for our own security and must override political differences among governments."
U.S. officials have repeatedly resisted relenting on their "maximum pressure campaign" of sanctions and added more against Iran and Venezuela in recent weeks. State Department officials have defended the measures by noting humanitarian and medical aid is exempt.
On at least two occasions, the Islamic Republic leaders rejected Washington's offer to help Iran combat the novel coronavirus and its related deadly disease, COVID-19.
President Hassan Rouhani last week insisted Iran is well supplied for the coming months and has access to hard currency.
Speaking to the Brazilian daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo last March, the Islamic Republic Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif asserted, "We will take care of ourselves and have enough friends to contribute to Iran's relentless campaign against the pandemic."