Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asked the international community to reject U.S. economic sanctions against his country amid a deadly coronavirus epidemic that has killed hundreds.
In a tweet on March 17, Zarif said Washington’s punitive measures have “drained” Iran’s economic resources and asked other countries to “Join the growing global campaign to disregard US sanctions on Iran.”
Last week, President Hassan Rouhani had made the same appeal.
Iranian officials have been arguing that U.S. sanctions prevent much-needed medicines and medical supplies to reach the country. The United States rejects the argument, insisting that its sanctions exclude food and medicines.
Now it seems Zarif has slightly changed the argument, saying his country has run out of financial resources. Recently, Iran asked for a $5 billion IMF loan for the first time in six decades, but it has failed to adopt internationally mandated legislation against financing of terrorism.
China and Russia issued appeals a day earlier for the United States to lift its sanctions based on the calamity posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters says based on information it has gathered it is unlikely the U.S. will agree.
Iran’s health ministry today said it urgently needs 250 million euros to fight the epidemic. But some point out that in January Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei allocated 200 million euros to Iran’s extraterritorial Qods (Quds) Force, which is involved in the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars and maintains a large network of proxy forces in Iraq and Lebanon.
Those Iranians who have taken part in widespread protests since 2017 also accuse their government of spending the national wealth on militants and proxy forces to expand its influence in the region.
The United States and most of its allies accuse Iran of supporting militant groups in the region, threatening its neighbors and interfering in the internal affairs of many countries.