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US Treasury Secretary Says Sanctions Not Impeding Humanitarian Contributions To Iran

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces new sanctions on Iran in Washington, January 10, 2020
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces new sanctions on Iran in Washington, January 10, 2020

Speaking in Washington at House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Iran sanctions do not prohibit humanitarian contributions to ease coronavirus pressure on Iran.

Britain, France and Germany offered Iran a package of material and financial support to combat the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 3 and pledged 5 million euros in aid. On March 11 Azerbaijan also announced that it is allocating $5million to help Iran combat the epidemic.

Iranian officials hold the United States responsible for shortage of medical equipment and medicine, particularly for the treatment of coronavirus.

The Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Wednesday repeated that the U.S. sanctions do not allow importing humanitarian items.

In February, a new Swiss payment mechanism known as Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement to allow food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to be sent to Iran without stumbling over U.S. sanctions officially took effect with but on Wednesday Mousavi said the U.S. sanctions have "practically blocked the way and have not let Iran's financial resources in other countries enter Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement".

"We consider their claims as deception until they take a practical measure and remove obstacles", Mousavi said.

On Sunday Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif in a tweet said the U.S. President Donald Trump is " maliciously tightening U.S. illegal sanctions with aim of draining Iran's resources needed in the fight against #COVID19—while our citizens are dying from it".

In letters to several international organizations Iran Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has claimed that Iran is under "medical, medicinal and laboratory equipment embargo by the United States" and called on the international community to take immediate action towards removing all sanctions "including the medical embargo against the Iranian people".

On February 28 the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States has offered to help with the coronavirus response in Iran. The offer was repeated by Trump on 29 who said he was ready to help Iran with its outbreak of novel coronavirus if the country asked for assistance.

Iranian officials have turned down the offer, calling it a "political-psychological game" and even accused the United States of having launched a "bio-terror attack" against Iran which caused the coronavirus outbreak.