US sanctions impeding treatment of Iranian victims of Saddam’s chemical attacks: OPCW envoy

Press TV – Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says unilateral US sanctions have prevented the country’s access to medical and health services required to treat victims of chemical attacks carried out by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.   

“The inhumane sanctions have negatively impacted the supply of medicines and treatment for more than 70,000 victims of chemical weapons in our country and have in fact hindered the treatment of chemical attacks victims,” Alireza Kazemi-Abadi said on Wednesday.

He called on OPCW member states to make efforts to help chemical victims through the Voluntary Fund for Assistance, whose funds are to be used to provide assistance if a state party is attacked or threatened with chemical weapons.

The Iranian envoy made the remarks during the 92nd session of the Executive Council of the OPCW in The Hague, Netherlands.

Last year, President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” economic sanctions against Tehran.

Officially, the measures exempt humanitarian goods, such as medicine and medicinal instruments.

But in reality, they have had negative impacts on Iran’s health sector and restricted the country’s access to medical and health services.

Back in March, 66 Iranian scientific medical societies wrote to the UN chief in denunciation of the “inhumane and medieval” American sanctions, which have led to “extensive shortages of life-saving medical supplies and drugs.”

Last November, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran Alireza Marandi also called on the UN to act against the incessant violation of human rights by the United States.

Marandi said the United States has endangered the lives of many Iranian patients by imposing “unjust” food and medicine sanctions against Tehran.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said the US sanctions that target the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) definitely affected the body’s ability to import basic food supplies and medications to meet domestic demand.

“These actions by America amount to war crimes because they are aimed at ordinary civilians as their primary and main target,” he said. “Civilians are considered secondary targets in a military war but they are primary targets under such policy of economic terrorism.”

Trump stepped up his campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran last month by subjecting the CBI to sanctions, describing the bans as the highest Washington had ever imposed on any country.