Sanders, Omar, AOC call for lifting US sanctions on Iran amid coronavirus epidemic

Sanders, Omar, AOC call for lifting US sanctions on Iran amid coronavirus epidemic
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, along with congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, led dozens of lawmakers in urging the Trump administration to suspend sanctions on coronavirus-stricken Iran.
2 min read
01 April, 2020
Last week, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iranian people and companies [Getty]
US lawmakers Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led a group of lawmakers in urging President Donald Trump's administration to lift sanctions on Iran in a Tuesday letter, as the Islamic Republic struggles to contain its massive novel coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 20 Iranian people and companies for supporting a Shia militia in Iraq held responsible for attacks on bases where US forces were located.

In the letter addressed to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the lawmakers expressed concern at the White House's renewed sanctions against Iran, deeming the decision to be "both callous and short-sighted in light of the seriousness of the public health crisis and the shared nature of the threat."

"With so many restrictions and sanctions to contend with, Iran’s medical industry has been limited in its ability to purchase equipment rapidly and adapt to changing circumstances on the ground in fighting the pandemic," the letter reads.

By targeting an entire economy that supports more than 80 million people, the lawmakers said, US sanctions make it difficult for Iranian civilians to obtain basic necessities such as food and hygienic supplies that are not only essential during the pandemic, but also basic to survival. 

The lawmakers urged the Trump administration to "substantially suspend" sanctions that encompass major sectors of Iran's economy during the pandemic.

"Failure to do so risks inhibiting the delivery of key humanitarian goods and putting the Iranian people into further health and economic peril," the letter continues. "Additionally, we encourage the US to find a way to deliver aid directly to the Iranian people to support the Iranian people’s fight against Coronavirus, as many other nations have done."

The letter's signatories include Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with congresspeople Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Joaquin Castro.

Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar had previously called for lifting US sanctions on Iran, among other countries, on many occasions.

On Tuesday, Germany's foreign ministry announced European nations delivered medical goods to Iran in the first transaction under the Instex mechanism set up to evade American sanctions on Tehran.

As of Wednesday, Iran reported nearly 2,900 COVID-19 deaths and over 44,000 cases.

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