Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says new sanctions imposed by the United States on the Iranian banking sector amount to an effort of a ‘terrorist, cruel and inhumane’ nature aimed at putting major obstacles to fund transfers for the purchase of medicine and food amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everyone is witnessing that Washington’s move is in full violation of international law; and in these times of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House’s attitude is completely against humanity; and the so-called advocates of human rights should condemn it globally,” Rouhani said in a phone call with Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnaser Hemmati on Friday.
The US administration, the Iranian president said, acts in line with its political objectives and propagating efforts which have domestic purposes.
The United States on Thursday targeted Iran’s financial sector by imposing sanctions on 18 Iranian banks, in defiance of Europe’s humanitarian objections.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) specified two of the targets as Iran’s Bank Maskan, and Bank Keshavarzi. The former is relied on by the biggest part of the country’s 80-million-strong population for loans assisting them to buy houses, while the latter has the biggest stakes countrywide in the agricultural sector.
Bank Refah Kargaran, which is favored by the country’s laborers and technical workers, Bank Gharzolhasaneh Resalat, reputed for its small and low-interest loans, and entrepreneurship-focused Karafarin Bank were also among the financial institutions.
The rest of the banned institutions were named as Pasargad Bank, Saman Bank, Sarmayeh Bank, Tose’e Ta’avon (Cooperative Development) Bank, Tourism Bank, and Amin Investment Bank.
The OFAC alleged that the relatively across-the-board measure was in line with the United States' general policy of targeting the Iranian entities that “may” be used to support Iran’s nuclear program, missile program or, what it called, its “terrorist” activities and “malign regional influence.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president emphasized that such fruitless moves by Washington come against the backdrop of a strategic blunder by President Donald Trump to withdraw from the multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between the Islamic Republic and six major world powers in 2015.
Based on a wrong analysis, Rouhani said, the US administration thought that sanctions would break the Iranian nation’s resistance and cause problems for the country but it was later proved that “this analysis is far from truth and has been inefficient.”
Washington and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have been trying unsuccessfully for more than a decade to incriminate Iran’s nuclear energy program. The campaign has been negated by successive reports of the UN nuclear agency that have verified the peaceful nature of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work.
In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a UN-endorsed nuclear deal, which it had signed as a member of the P5+1 group with Tehran in 2015, and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement.
Iran sued the US at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) afterwards. The tribunal ruled that the US should lift its sanctions on humanitarian supplies.
The trade of humanitarian goods, such as food, medicine and medical devices, is theoretically allowed by the US, but European companies refuse to do business with Iran, fearing secondary American sanctions. The bans imposed on the Iranian banking system have dissuaded many pharmaceutical firms from doing business with Iran.
A senior official with the Iranian Judiciary said on Monday that the body is planning to prosecute 46 American natural and legal persons involved in the imposition of unjust sanctions on the Islamic Republic, which among other things, have prevented the country from importing medications necessary to treat patients with serious diseases.
“We are using all legal means, at domestic and international levels, to counteract these crimes and today, I announce that the names of 46 American natural and legal persons, who have been one way or another involved in imposing unjust and inhumane sanctions on the Iranian nation, have been given to Tehran prosecutor’s office” to prosecute them in accordance with a law on countering terrorist measures of the United States, head of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights, Ali Baqeri-Kani said.
For his part, the CBI governor said the new US sanctions have not ended exemptions to supply food and essential items and banks that are targeted with the secondary sanctions can still use the SWIFT global payment network.
Hemmati added that the US administration is creating serious problems for fund transfers for the supply of medicine and food under various pretexts but all such efforts have failed thanks to “special methods” used by the CBI and other banks and businessmen.