By Shi Tian Source:Global Times
Chinese medical team members meet with Iranian medical experts in Tehran, Iran, March 7. Photo: Xinhua
It is time for the US to ease its unilateral sanctions against Iran. As one of the hardest-hit countries, Iran has seen over 2,000 deaths by the coronavirus infections, and the US’ mounting sanctions at this critical juncture, which obviously go against the humanitarian spirit, are making the situation even worse.
The US has been exerting pressure on Iran for years, especially after its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. Washington has imposed several new sanctions against Tehran to hit the latter’s oil industry, throw it into chaos and isolate it in the international community, which has plunged millions of Iranians into despair.
And with the number of infections rising sharply in Iran, the country not only gets not a dime from the US, but even faces tougher sanctions. The US government last week increased pressure on Iran by blacklisting some foreign companies for trading with Iran, which has sent a cruel signal: Washington will have no compassion for Iran.
The US “maximum pressure” on Iran not only seriously hampers the latter’s efforts to fight the virus, but also creates many obstacles for the international community to offer humanitarian aid.
Iran has lost around $200 billion since the Trump administration imposed sanctions, seriously undermining the country’s ability to cope with a major crisis. And medical supplies, the lifeblood of a country in a pandemic, have been hurt badly.
One-third of the raw materials for drugs in Iran depend on imports, which was limited under US sanctions. And according to an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, although Washington claims its sanctions do not stop humanitarian aid from getting to Iran, it is still setting up barriers.
The US has always advertised itself as a human rights defender. Amid the pandemic, it again boasted in a government file made public by The Daily Beast, “The United States and the American people are demonstrating once again that they are the greatest humanitarians the world has ever known.”
But take a look at its move against Iran. It is nothing but “a crime against humanity,” Reuters quoted an Iranian official as saying. How can the “greatest humanitarians” remain completely indifferent at a time when many Iranian people die of the deadly virus? Are sanctions some kind of US-style humanitarian aid? US sanctions against Iran only lay bare the White House’s lies. The Trump administration cares nothing about Iranian lives; it cares only about its political gains.
Fortunately, more countries are paying attention to Iran’s emerging humanitarian crisis. Since the epidemic broke out in Iran, the country has been receiving assistance from the international community. China has sent a team of medical experts, donated medical supplies through many channels, and called on the US to ease sanctions. Countries including Russia, Kuwait and Qatar have also provided timely help.
The deadly virus is a common enemy facing the world. No country can wall itself off from it. In the face of this global challenge, all old discords should be set aside, and the only priority of all countries should be to unite as one and to concentrate efforts on combating the pandemic.
The US’ inhumane sanctions set a bad example. They will hamper the tremendous efforts made by other countries to fight the virus, and may eventually threaten its own people’s health.