Zarif: US sanctions ‘main obstacle’ to Iran’s COVID-19 battle

Press TV – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says US sanctions against Iran have hampered the country’s access to medicine and medical equipment amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

US sanctions are still the “main obstacle” to the country’s effective fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Zarif told his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Moteg in a phone conversation on Friday.

The bans are obstructing Iran’s access to medicine and medical equipment, he added.

The top diplomat demanded that the Japanese government increase its efforts to help remove Washington’s unilateral and illegal sanctions against Iran.

Zarif also thanked the Japanese government and nation for assisting Tehran in its ongoing battle to stem the COVID-19.

Toshimitsu Moteg, for his part, highlighted the two nations’ “friendly” ties, saying that Tokyo plans to donate Avigan, a drug used in Japan to treat new strains of influenza appeared to be effective in coronavirus patients, to Iran.

So far, the new virus has claimed 1,284 lives in Iran and infected more than 18,000 others.

Recently, the Iranian foreign minister wrote a letter to the United Nations secretary-general, calling for the removal of US sanctions.

Despite the high scientific standing of the Iranian health apparatus and its commitment to the ongoing fight against the coronavirus outbreak, the complications created by US sanctions “have faced Iran’s fight with the COVID-19 outbreak with serious impediments,” Zarif said in his letter.

The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a UN-endorsed nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

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