• 2020-04-06

    Iran is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic’s leadership has engaged in a massive campaign aimed at lifting sanctions imposed on it for its malign activities, claiming sanctions hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. This memo, however, assesses that lifting sanctions would be ill-advised. The Iranian population suffering from COVID-19 deserves much needed medical assistance but that should be funded though reliable NGOs, bypassing the regime and not through the transfer of funds to the regime, which has ample financial resources estimated at over $300 billion for economic stimulus and humanitarian aid. 

  • 2020-04-06

    Even before COVID-19, Iran’s health system was feeling the effect of the sanctions.3 Their impact is now severe because they restrict the government’s ability to raise funds or to import essential goods. Of the ten countries with the highest number of recorded cases of COVID-19 to date, Iran is the poorest.2 In 2019, Iran had the lowest rate of economic growth (–9·5%) and highest rate of inflation (35·7%) recorded in the country for the past 20 years. This financial situation makes the funding of adequate prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19 impossible, and the country cannot take the same measures adopted in other countries to strengthen responses, such as paying the full cost of obtaining treatment.3 Essential medicines and medical equipment are technically exempt from sanctions, but their availability is restricted by the effect of sanctions on the commercial sector, reducing manufacturing and trade capacity, and on foreign exchange. Consequently, although approximately 184 000 hospital and primary health-care staff are working to fight COVID-19, their efforts are thwarted by shortages of test kits, protective equipment, and ventilators. 

  • 2020-04-05

    Iran is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic’s leadership has engaged in a massive campaign aimed at lifting sanctions imposed on it for its malign activities, claiming sanctions hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. This memo, however, assesses that lifting sanctions would be ill-advised. The Iranian population suffering from COVID-19 deserves much needed medical assistance but that should be funded though reliable NGOs, bypassing the regime and not through the transfer of funds to the regime, which has ample financial resources estimated at over $300 billion for economic stimulus and humanitarian aid. 

  • 2020-04-03

    Iran has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and US sanctions have hindered its access to drugs and medical equipment. That has led many US officials and foreign policy experts to implore the Trump administration to ease or temporarily lift sanctions. Despite what you may have read, Joe Biden is not one of them. Biden’s April 2 statement on Iran, coronavirus, and sanctions makes no mention of lifting or easing sanctions whatsoever. Instead, it merely asks the Trump administration to take a number of limited actions to clarify what is already true: US sanctions don’t apply to humanitarian goods like medical equipment or drugs. Biden’s specific requests include issuing licenses to pharmaceutical and medical device companies and giving clear guidance to aid organizations.

  • 2020-04-01

    The politicization of the coronavirus pandemic––and other crises––in the Islamic Republic is, of course, interwoven with campaigns for regime change. Lobbies like United Against Nuclear Iran, which have long pressed for ever tougher sanctions, have in recent months singled out pharmaceutical sales to the country, targeting the Western companies still trading with Iran. There was a chorus of indignation when Iran rejected the offer from Médecins sans frontières of a 50-bed field hospital, ignoring the fact that its co-founder, onetime French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, has for the past three years addressed and endorsed the so-called ‘Free Iran’ gatherings of the mek—the ‘People’s Mujahedin of Iran’, a cult dedicated to violent regime change which, following the fall of its previous patron Saddam Hussein is currently stationed in Albania. In viewing the covid-19 pandemic through the prism of international power politics, Western governments, political observers and media pundits have not only failed to comprehend the facts on the ground; they have missed opportunities to learn from Iran’s experience—both what the country got right in responding to the pandemic, and what it got wrong—that could have benefited their own populations, in a world that today is interdependent not only economically and culturally, but perhaps above all in matters of public health.

  • 2020-03-31

    Germany's foreign ministry said the three European countries “confirm that INSTEX has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran.” “These goods are now in Iran,” it said in a statement that gave details neither of the goods nor of who was involved in the transaction, AP reported. “Now the first transaction is complete, INSTEX and its Iranian counterpart STFI will work on more transactions and enhancing the mechanism,” the German foreign ministry statement said. Britain, France and Germany conceived the complex barter-type system dubbed INSTEX, which aims to protect companies doing business with Iran from American sanctions, in January 2019. The move came months after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers in 2015 and reimposed sanctions.

  • 2020-03-30

    The wife of an Iranian material sciences professor, who has been held in the United States for close to three years on ‘not-proven’ charges of bypassing Washington’s sanctions against Iran, has recounted his ordeal in American detention. Sharif University of Technology Professor Sirous Asgari was arrested in the United States in mid-2017. Back then, the FBI alleged the scientist had shared information about a project he had conducted on a sabbatical in the US five years before with his students, his wife said in an interview published Sunday. “The findings were published and made available on the Internet afterwards, which means there was nothing secret about the project. Nevertheless, they accused Asgari of stealing information,” his wife said.

  • 2020-03-29

    Sweeping U.S. sanctions are hampering Iranian efforts to import medicine and other medical supplies to confront one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the world, health workers and sanctions experts say. The broad U.S. restrictions on Iran’s banking system and the embargo on its oil exports have limited Tehran’s ability to finance and purchase essential items from abroad, including drugs as well as the raw materials and equipment needed to manufacture medicines domestically. The Trump administration has also reduced the number of licenses it grants to companies for certain medical exports to Iran, according to quarterly reports from a U.S. Treasury Department enforcement agency. The list of items requiring special authorization includes oxygen generators, full-face respirator masks and thermal imaging equipment, all of which are needed to treat patients and keep medical workers safe, doctors say. 

  • 2020-03-28

    A diverse group of academics, researchers and NGO leaders have signed the following open letter addressed to the leaders of the P4+1 countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia) and US lawmakers. 

  • 2020-03-26

    Eight countries have called on the United Nations (UN) chief to ask for the lifting of unilateral sanctions on various countries that are hindering the global fight against the new coronavirus. The diplomatic missions of Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday and warned about the negative impact of the sanctions on the international efforts aimed at containing the deadly virus.

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