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Iran official raps false US claims about exempting medicines from sanctions

Abbas Araqchi, the secretary of Iran’s Strategic Council of Foreign Relations, speaks at a recent summit of Iran Hemophilia Center, on August 17, 2023. (Photo by Fars news agency)

The secretary of Iran’s Strategic Council of Foreign Relations has censured US lies about exempting medicines from anti-Iran sanctions, saying Washington’s “empty claims” are an example of its hypocrisy.

Speaking at a recent summit of the Iran Hemophilia Center, Abbas Araqchi, who also serves as an adviser to Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, lamented the hurdles created by the US Treasury Department in Iran’s purchase of medical items.

He complained that the heavy costs of hiring lawyers familiar with US sanctions laws discourage pharmaceutical companies from doing business with Iran.

The United States reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a United Nations-endorsed nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic and five other countries. It claimed that humanitarian supplies are officially exempted from the restrictive measures.

In practice, however, the sanctions have taken a heavy toll on Iranian people, especially those battling diseases such as EB (epidermolysis bullosa).

The embargoes have restricted the financial channels necessary to pay for basic goods and medicine, undermining supply chains by limiting the number of suppliers willing to facilitate sales of humanitarian goods to the country.

“Exceptions have failed to help protect humanitarian areas from US sanctions,” Araqchi said. “The bitter truth is that international medical companies prioritize generating income over easing human suffering. Thus, they prefer to abide by the US sanctions regime and not to enter a deal with Iran.”

He also highlighted the problems caused for EB patients after Sweden’s Mölnlycke Health Care stopped selling special bandages to Iran due to the unilateral US sanctions.

In addition to Western companies, many Asian firms have also stopped medical trade with Iran over fear of punitive US bans, he added.

“Talking about the cruel US sanctions and their negative effects does not mean that Iran is unable to deal with such consequences,” the official asserted.

“Firstly, the purpose [of such discussions] is to expose America’s lies and hypocrisy, as well as its empty claim about the exemption of medicines from sanctions. Secondly, it is a reminder of the international responsibility of the United States and the need to hold the country to account for the crimes it commits against the people of Iran and other countries with its cruel sanctions.”

Araqchi also noted that Iran’s ability to meet its needs and render the medical sanctions ineffective does not absolve the US from its responsibility in this regard.

“Iranians are indebted to the round-the-clock efforts of medical staff and domestic manufacturers…, who have been able to minimize the effects of sanctions in the health sector and even render them ineffective,” he said, adding, however, that the nation “will not forgive” the losses caused by the US sanctions.

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