• 2020-03-23

    Amid the crisis, on March 17, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions against Iran, telling reporters, “We have an open humanitarian channel to facilitate legitimate transactions even while ensuring our maximum pressure campaign denies terrorists money.” But that assessment of the humanitarian channel isn’t widely shared and, despite Pompeo’s repeated assertions that the Trump administration offered Iran help to deal with the coronavirus crisis, he hasn’t provided details of what those offers entail. “Our research showed that in practice, humanitarian exemptions in the U.S. comprehensive sanctions regime have been ineffective in offsetting the strong reluctance of companies and banks to conduct trade with Iran, including the humanitarian trade that is presumably legal,” Human Rights Watch Iran researcher Tara Sepheri Far told Responsible Statecraft. “The Iranian healthcare system, both in terms of access to specialized medicine and also with regards to access to medical equipment, has taken a toll as a result of sanctions,” she added.

  • 2020-03-22

    Since March 5, Chinese businessman Chen Cangsong and his Iranian friend Hassan Tavana have been working around the clock, busy with gathering donations from all over the world and then sending them to Iran, where the COVID-19 epidemic is raging. Both Chen and Hassan serve on the Business Council of the United Nations Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance based in Quanzhou, in the southeastern Chinese Province of Fujian, where they have sent a rush shipment of supplies, including over 80,000 medical masks and 3,000 goggles, to Iran. Chen is busy dealing with the influx of messages from donors in member companies scattered in 16 countries. "We have our phones work day and night to make sure no donation is missed as sometimes messages come around midnight or before dawn," Chen said. Like Chen and Hassan, there are a large number of Chinese and Iranians extending their helping hands as brothers and sisters to fight against COVID-19 in Iran.

  • 2020-03-20

    In light of the increasingly dire situation in Iran as the country combats the COVID-19 pandemic, NIAC Action and 25 other organizations – including J Street, Truman National Security Project, MoveOn, Win Without War and Ploughshares Fund – in calling on President Trump, Sec. Mnuchin, and Sec. Pompeo to loosen the administration's crippling sanctions regime on Iran for 120 days in order to aid the Iranian people’s fight against the virus. The combined groups, representing millions of Americans, signals a strong desire for the administration to reevaluate their Iran policy in the wake of the pandemic. NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi released the following statement accompanying the letter: “The Trump administration's current unwillingness to significantly ease sanctions on Iran during this time of crisis is like rubbing salt into a gaping wound. With hospitals overrun and Iranian doctors struggling to procure necessary equipment, the U.S. must be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  “As COVID-19 rips through country after country, Iran’s experience has been particularly devastating. While advanced medical systems across Western Europe seem to be collapsing under the weight of patients infected with the virus, Iranians have had to contend with both their own government’s negligence and crushing sanctions that slow the response and punish ordinary Iranians. “Humanitarian assistance shouldn’t come with strings attached, and we are all at risk from the pandemic regardless of nationality. We call on the administration to ease its sanctions policy so that all resources are available to fight the pandemic in this dark hour for the Iranian people.”

  • 2020-03-20

    Donald Trump's government decided to reinforce the criminal sanctions that the United States has maintained and intensified against Iran for decades. The US peace movement has already denounced the perversity of such a measure, especially considering that Iran is one of the countries most affected by the global coronavirus outbreak, with more than 17,000 confirmed cases of contamination and more than 1,000 deaths registered thus far, while there is still a lack of vital medicines and medical equipment for the Iranian people to face the pandemic. It is therefore outrageous and we repudiate in the most vehement terms Trump's criminal decision to step up on sanctions, at a time when nations should be cooperating to overcome this pandemic and create solutions to protect their peoples and humanity against this humanitarian calamity.

  • 2020-03-18

    THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is run by sociopaths. How else to explain the Trump administration’s callous disregard for the lives of ordinary Iranians in the midst of this global coronavirus crisis? How else to make sense of U.S. officials doubling down in their support for crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, despite the sheer scale of the suffering?

  • 2020-03-16

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang has urged removal of sanctions on Iran as the country is fighting the coronavirus. Geng made remarks at a press briefing when asked to comment on a letter sent by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to leaders of several countries, in which he accused the U.S. government of continuing to thwart Iran's efforts to counter the pandemic, with sanctions having caused about 200 billion U.S. dollars of direct damages to the Iranian economy in less than two years, Xinhua reported. [...]  Paying close attention to the situation in Iran and maintaining communication with the Middle Eastern country, China has sent anti-epidemic materials including test kits, as well as a team of voluntary experts to Iran, Geng said. The spokesperson added that China will continue to provide assistance within its capabilities and in accordance with Iran's needs, and hopes the international community will strengthen cooperation with Iran and jointly safeguard global and regional public health security. Iran is currently battling the world’s deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus in the Middle East.

  • 2020-03-14

    The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is far from the first proof of how intertwined we are as a global community. The climate crisis and the refugee crisis have long been glaring examples that the wars or CO2 emissions on one continent risk the lives and well-being of people on another continent. What coronavirus is providing, however, is a unique opportunity to look specifically at how the intentional damage caused to one country’s healthcare system can make it harder for the entire world to address a pandemic. [...]  The Iranian government is not without blame. It grossly mishandled the beginning of the outbreak, downplaying the danger, putting out false information, and even arresting individuals who raised alarms. China had acted similarly at the start of the virus there. The same can be said for President Trump, as he initially blamed the virus on Democrats, told people not to practice social distancing, and refused to accept tests offered by the World Health Organization. Today, there are still nowhere near enough tests in the U.S., Trump is refusing to have himself tested despite having been in contact with infected individuals, and he continues to label this a “foreign virus.” Neither China nor the U.S., however, have the compounding problems of sanctions that prevent them from obtaining the necessary medicines, equipment, and other resources to address the crisis. It isn’t just Iran that is sanctioned. The U.S. imposes some form of sanctions against 39 countries, affecting over one-third of the world’s population. In addition to Iran, Venezuela is one of the countries most hard hit by U.S. sanctions, including new measures just imposed on March 12.

  • 2020-03-14

    The World Health Organization's Emergency Director for the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Richard Brennan, said that Iran's strategies are on the right path to contain coronavirus epidemic. Speaking on the sidelines of visiting the WHO delegation and the COVID-19 pandemic public health experts' visit to Iran, he said that a comprehensive and coordinated approach is currently being implemented in Iran, especially in the areas of patient management, laboratories, and risk communication. [...]  The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran's response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions. The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO. The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.

  • 2020-03-13

    The current pandemic could provide an opportunity for President Trump to make a humanitarian gesture towards Iran. He should ease sanctions to allow aid and medical supplies to get into Iran in order to help contain the epicenter of the disease in the Middle East and slow one of the largest outbreaks of this deadly virus. This may open the door for future dialogue that could finally get Tehran and Washington out of this impasse.

     

  • 2020-03-08

    The Joseph Biden administration has named Richard Nephew as its deputy Iran envoy. As the former principal deputy coordinator of sanctions policy for Barack Obama’s State Department, Nephew took personal credit for depriving Iranians of food, sabotaging their automobile industry, and driving up unemployment rates.

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