13:45 GMT04 March 2021
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    On Saturday, Iran’s Ambassador to Belgium Gholamhossein Dehghani underscored that Washington's anti-Iranian sanctions “undermine Tehran's ability to effectively fight the virus in the long run without international support”.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has urged Washington to scrap its "illegal" sanctions against Tehran amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Iran has never asked and will not ask America to help Tehran in its fight against the outbreak”, he added, accusing the US of “trying to force Tehran to accept negotiations with America”.

    The statement comes after Iranian Ambassador to Belgium Gholamhossein Dehghani wrote a letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell last week saying that the US sanctions are drastically hindering Iran’s ability to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than 3,000 people in the country.

    "The US unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed on Iran under the guise of a maximum pressure campaign undermine Iran's ability to effectively fight the virus in the long run without international support", the letter read. 

    The letter followed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last month praising the Islamic Republic’s efforts to fight the coronavirus in light of the US sanctions.

    “All countries in the world are currently battling with the virus, but our situation is different from theirs", he said. "The capabilities and measures taken by the government in fighting the coronavirus in the face of the US maximum pressure and the inhuman impacts of the sanctions are already remarkable even when compared with the measures taken by other countries”, he pointed out.

    Rouhani emphasised that the renewed US sanctions on the Islamic Republic have "caused about $200 billion in direct damages to the Iranian economy in less than two years".

    Also in March, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called to stop adhering to the US sanctions against Iran as the world faces fallout from the coronavirus, describing it as a moral duty.

    His remarks were preceded by several US congressmen sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in which they asked to suspend the sanctions against Iran. The latter remains one of the nations hardest hit by COVID-19, with more than 55,700 confirmed cases and 3,452 deaths.

    In mid-2018, the US reimposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran that were waived under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, after accusing Tehran of breaching what is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    The re-imposition of US sanctions came as President Trump announced Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal, in what prompted Tehran to start suspending some of its JCPOA obligations in May 2019.  


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