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FM Zarif: US impeding global fight against coronavirus

Iranian workers set up a makeshift hospital inside the Iran Mall, northwest of Tehran, on March 21, 2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by AFP)

Iran's foreign minister has slammed the US for not heeding a global call on Washington to lift sanctions against Tehran so that the country can fight the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Iranian people appreciate the growing global campaign of government and civil society leaders calling for lifting of illegal US sanctions. US is NOT listening, impeding global fight against COVID-19,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday.

“The ONLY remedy: DEFY US mass punishment,” he added.

Russia, China, Pakistan as well as different medical organizations and rights groups have urged the administration of US President Donald Trump to lift the sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Monday that the total number of people infected with the coronavirus had risen by 1,411 to 23,049 and the death toll from the virus had reached 1,812 in the past 24 hours.

While the US administration claims there are no sanctions on medicine going to Iran, many banks and companies have refrained from taking part in any such ventures out of fear of getting caught up in US secondary sanctions.

Iran has called on the United Nations to urge the US to lift sanctions, and China and Russia have urged the US to do so as well, but Washington remains obdurate in its "maximum pressure"
campaign against Tehran.

The US issued a new set of sanctions on Wednesday, aimed at the transport of petrochemicals from Iran.

In a message issued to the American people on Friday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the "brutal" US sanctions unilaterally imposed on the Iranian nation are robbing a great number of Iranians of health, jobs and sources of income.

"At a time that the Iranian people are harmed by both the deadly coronavirus and the most brutal form of US economic terrorism in history, the US government is not willing to abandon its malicious policy of maximum pressure; and is thus in practice aiding the spread of this virus with its sanctions," he said. 

Rouhani urged the American people not to allow the current administration’s hostile attitude toward Iran to tarnish history of their country.

The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a UN-endorsed nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of world countries.

Tehran sued Washington at the International Court of Justice afterwards and the tribunal ruled that the US should lift its sanctions on humanitarian supplies.

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