US sanctions hinder access to COVID-19 vaccines, says Iran

TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that United States (US) sanctions are making it difficult for Iran to purchase medicine and health supplies from abroad, including COVID-19 vaccines needed to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s banking sector and its vital oil and gas industry since unilaterally withdrawing the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.

While the US insists that medicines and humanitarian goods are exempt from sanctions, restrictions on trade have made many banks and companies across the world hesitant to do business with Iran, fearing punitive measures from Washington. The country is also cut off from the international banking system, making it difficult to transfer payments.

“Our people should know that for any action we plan to carry out for importing medicine, vaccines and equipment, we should curse Trump a hundred times,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

He said even simple transactions to purchase medicine from other countries had become extremely difficult and that it can take “weeks” to transfer funds.