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US responsible for coronavirus deaths in Iran: Petroleum minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh

Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh says the United States is responsible for deaths of over 400 Iranians per day due to coronavirus infection as Washington prevents Tehran's access to financial resources it needs to fight the pandemic.

“The US’ sanctions and depriving Iran of [its] hydrocarbon revenues has caused the country to face problems in handling the new coronavirus [pandemic],” Zanganeh said on the sidelines of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF)’s 22nd ministerial meeting that was being held via video-link on Thursday.

“Therefore, I believe that the US administration is responsible for the deaths of [more than] 400 Iranian people every day due to the coronavirus’ pandemic,” he added.

The administration of outgoing US President Donald Trump returned its sanctions against Iran after leaving an international nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that has been ratified by the United Nations Security Council.

As part of the “economic terrorism,” Washington has vowed to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero.”

The administration has refused to relax the bans, even in the case of foodstuffs and medicinal items, despite the deadly march of the November 2019-present pandemic and a UN court ruling that has obliged it to suspend the coercive measures.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zanganeh denounced the US’ departure from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal’s official name, and Washington’s restoration of the sanctions as nothing but “[acts of] bullying against Iran and the world.”

At a time when international markets have already been battered by the viral outbreak, Washington has compounded matters by preventing Iran from using its assets and revenues to facilitate its people’s lives, especially in the humanitarian and medical areas, the minister said.

The respiratory virus has broken its daily record of deaths and infections in Iran. The scourge has afflicted 726,585 people and killed up to 40,121 of them throughout the Islamic Republic so far. According to Iran's Health Ministry, a total of 457 patients died from the coronavirus infection across country during the past 24 hours alone.

The Iranian official reminded how the US has acted in a similar unilateral manner by leaving the Paris climate deal, imposing tariffs on Chinese imports, which has led to a Sino-American trade war, and unprecedentedly damaging its transatlantic ties with Europe.

However, the key to realization of a peaceful world, where energy products such as gas enjoy sustainable and mutually beneficial production levels, “lies in expansion of international cooperation, attention towards multilateralism, and refrain from one-upmanship,” he concluded.

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