Envoy: Iran’s health capacity viciously targeted by unilateral US sanctions

Press TV – Iran’s ambassador to international organizations in Geneva has slammed US sanctions as the main factor targeting the country’s health sector’s capabilities, urging the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) not to ignore this grave problem.

“Iran’s health capacity is viciously targeted by the United States’ unilateral sanctions,” Esmaeil Baqaei said while addressing a meeting of the UNHCR in Geneva on Thursday.

“That’s something that the Council cannot afford to ignore since it is deliberately affecting the basic rights of a whole population,” he added.

Under President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, the US re-imposed its sanctions against Iran in May 2018. Washington took the move after leaving a historic United Nations-endorsed nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic and major world powers.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif had written a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, urging lifting of the illegal sanctions, which have greatly hampered the Islamic Republic’s fight against the new coronavirus epidemic.

Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory disease first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The World Health Organization on Wednesday described the outbreak as a pandemic.

More than 126,000 people have been infected by the virus across the world and 4,630 have died, the vast majority of them in China, according to a Reuters tally.

Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state television on Thursday that 1,075 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been detected across the country in the last 24 hours, which brings the total number of infected people to 10,075. He also put the death toll at 429.

Zarif reminded in his letter how the renewed sanctions had come in the way of legal trade with Iran amid the outbreak, adding that American officials had recently set some preconditions with the aim of preventing sales of medicine, medical equipment, and humanitarian commodities to the Islamic Republic.

Adding to his remarks, Baqaei also pointed to Washington’s instrumentalization of the issue of human rights for political purposes in its efforts to target Iran.

He said Iran was among the developing countries that have been “scapegoated” by the US and other states for years for alleged human rights violations.

Those states, the Iranian envoy added, have been invoking the issue as a convenient tool to demonize their adversaries.