US shamelessly denies blocking Iran-bound food, medicine: Foreign Ministry

Press TV – Tehran says the United States has blocked the entry of foodstuffs and medicine into Iran through its unlawful sanctions, but shamelessly denies doing so.

Asked about the impact of US sanctions on Iran’s fight against the virus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, “The oppressive and illegal American sanctions, which [have been imposed on Iran] within the framework of the  ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, have affected public welfare and health in Iran.”

“Although medicine and medical equipment should be exempt from the sanctions…the course of relevant transactions has been blocked,” he told media representatives via video-link on Wednesday. “However, they brazenly claim that medicine and foodstuffs are not subject to the sanctions,” the official added.

The virus showed up first in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has so far claimed more than 4,200 lives and infected above 113,000 others worldwide.

The epidemic has killed 291 people in Iran and infected 8,042 others, out of whom 2,731 have recovered.

Mousavi said if the US is really honest in offering sympathy to the Iranian nation, it should ease the sanctions and free up banks as well as monetary and financial institutions to carry out the transactions that would enable exports of food and medicine to Iran.

The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving aUN-endorsed nuclear agreement with Iran and five other countries.

Tehran sued Washington at the International Court of Justice afterwards. The tribunal ruled that the US should lift its sanctions on humanitarian supplies.

Mousavi referred to that verdict and said Iran is doubtful about the US’s claims of sympathy and does not foresee a corresponding change in its policy. Nevertheless, if Washington stops getting in the way of the exports, “we will welcome such measure,” he added.

‘Iran concerned about health of US-held prisoners’

The official further expressed concerns about the health conditions of the Iranians being held in US prisons.

“The health conditions in US prisons are a source of concern,” he said, calling for their release and return to the country.

‘UK should confront anti-Iran broadcast’

Mousavi, meanwhile, urged Britain to confront a misinformation campaign launched by UK-based Persian-language media outlets to target Iran’s efforts to contain the virus.

The Iranian Embassy in London, he added, was examining those reports and preparing to submit a legal request for action against the media spreading fake news.

‘All Iran borders are open’

Elsewhere, the official said despite the adverse effect that the epidemic has had on international businesses, Iran has been seeking to soften the damage on its own economic activities and those of its neighboring states.

Iran has adopted all due sanitary precautions at its ports of entry and has been trying to assure its neighbors of the virus-free nature of its exports by issuing clean bills of health and other relevant guarantees for its exports and transit truckers.

Despite some initial restrictions that were applied following the outbreak, Iran’s borders are currently all open and all border points are being used towards economic interaction with various countries, Mousavi noted.

Iran forms regional cooperation taskforce to fight virus

The official said that the Ministry had formed a special taskforce aimed at enabling cooperation amongIran and fellow regional countries against the outbreak.

He expressed regret that the virus had come to affect more than 100 countries, including those in the region, “some of which unfortunately tried to cover up the problem through political maneuvers or attribute the source of the outbreak to others.”

However, battling the virus requires international collaboration, added the official, reminding that Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif had announced Tehran’s readiness to fully cooperate with other states in his telephone conversations with foreign officials.

All countries should seriously consider enabling technical and medical cooperation against the disease under the World Health Organization’s supervision, and share their findings and preventive know-how with others.

Mousavi said Iran has made good progress in treating the infection, and said it would readily share its advances with all countries willing to receive that.