Iran accuses US of ‘economic terrorism’, urges sanctions end

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Iran’s Foreign Minister demanded that the United States (US) immediately halt what he called a “campaign of economic terrorism” and lift sanctions, saying they have made it increasingly difficult for the country to export oil and virtually impossible to import medicine and medical equipment, including to identify and treat coronavirus patients.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a letter to United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that US sanctions have also left thousands of Iranians stranded abroad and severely disrupted air links with Europe.

And he said they have led to what he called “Google’s immoral censoring” of a new government app designed to help Iranians identify potential symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

He said it is “imperative” that the government of the US immediately halt its campaign of economic terrorism against the Iranian people and lift all sanctions it has illegally imposed on my country,” in violation of the Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers which the US pulled out of in 2018.

“To this end,” Zarif said, “It is imperative that the UN and its member states join the Iranian people in demanding that the government of the US abandon its malign and fruitless approach against Iran.”

The new coronavirus has swept across Iran, with the Health Ministry announcing on Thursday that in the past 24 hours 75 people had died and more than 1,000 new cases had been confirmed, bringing the death toll to 429 and confirmed cases to 10,075.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “deeply concerned” about the coronavirus outbreak in Iran and the UN system is providing support.

But the UN Chief is also very aware “of the shortage of medicine and medical equipment that makes it much more difficult to contain the outbreak in Iran, and he appeals to all member states to facilitate and support Iran’s efforts in this critical moment,” Dujarric said.

People wearing protective face masks walk along the side of a street by the Tajrish Bazaar in Tehran, Iran. PHOTO: AFP