China says “immoral” sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran must be lifted as soon as possible, because they hamper the Islamic Republic’s ability to fight an ongoing outbreak of new coronavirus (COVID-19), thus damaging ordinary people’s lives.
Speaking at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geng Shuang, said the United States should lift any sanctions imposed on Iran to ensure that the country receives timely humanitarian aid to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that it would be immoral to keep sanctions in force at a time when the fight against the virus in Iran “has entered a crucial stage.”
“China urges involved countries to immediately lift the relevant sanctions against Iran to avoid further damage to the Iranian economy and people’s lives,” Geng said.
He noted that the removal of the sanctions will help preserve Iran’s economic and social well-being during this critical period as the restrictions would get in the way of the United Nations and other organizations providing assistance to virus-hit Iran.
Pointing to China’s close contact with Iran concerning the spread of the pandemic, the diplomat said, “Beijing will continue providing assistance to Tehran based on the needs of the Iranian side and its own capabilities, and we also call on the international community to cooperate with Iran to ensure public health security at a regional and global level.”
He added that his country had already sent humanitarian medical supplies and experts to help Iran.
President Donald Trump reinstated US sanctions on Iran in May 2018 after he unilaterally left the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and major world powers.
The US claims it does not get in the way of food and medicine exports to Iran, but the Islamic Republic says Washington has been creating problems for a Swiss humanitarian channel that is aimed at enabling the transfer of commodities.
In a letter sent to a number of world leaders on Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said unlike many countries infected with coronavirus, the Islamic Republic is faced with serious obstacles and restrictions emanating from two years of extensive and illegal sanctions, a maximum pressure campaign as well as systematic acts of sabotage by the US administration.
He noted that while the US administration did not stop exerting illegal pressure on Iran even after the coronavirus outbreak started, its secretary of state “brazenly” urged countries to send humanitarian aid to Tehran only if Washington’s “unwise and inhumane” demands were met.
It is not possible for any country to handle the dangerous crisis by itself let alone a country that has numerous problems in having access to international financial markets and supplying its required commodities, the Iranian president stated.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said on Sunday that the cruel and unilateral sanctions imposed by the White House are severely hampering the Islamic Republic’s fight against the novel coronavirus.
“The cruel and unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States constitute a major obstacle to Iran’s fight against the dangerous coronavirus,” Zarif said in a phone conversation with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
In Iran, a total of 14,991 people have so far been infected, 4,996 have recovered, and 853 have lost their lives to the infection.
Among the latest high-ranking Iranian officials to have been infected in the worsening outbreak is a member of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Hashem Bat’haei Golpayegani, who died in the city of Qom, the epicenter of the disease, at the age of 78 on Monday.
He died two days after testing positive for the coronavirus.