In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr Alireza Koohkan said that despite US claims, no financial transfers are allowed between Iran and other countries through conventional channels. He noted: “Iran’s needs at the time of Corona crisis are not limited to pharmaceuticals, but even in the case of medicines supply the US claims there are no sanctions but the process is still hampered by US threats and sanctions.
He added that some of the things Iran needs to combat the virus are considered to be goods with dual-purpose, including some drugs and disinfectants that the US has prevented from entering Iran. Besides, the most important problem is the failure to pay for the goods. Due to banking sanctions, financial transfers are impossible. Purchase of medicines may be possible but the problem is that it cannot be exchanged because of its inability to pay for the goods.
Citing wide-scale sanctions on shipping by the US Department of the Treasury, the university professor said: “Adding to these sanctions, they themselves have acknowledged that the possibility of shipping foodstuff, medicine and the like has been eliminated.”
US Pretexts to Ignore Iran’s Humanitarian & Medical Needs
Noting that Iran was in extreme trouble to obtain items such as masks, protective gear and disinfectants, he said: “They didn’t even allow one or two large shipments that we managed to buy and pay for them,”
Some of these goods have dual-use and are banned from entering Iran: Excuses that are utterly deplorable in human and medical terms and show that in the literature of international relations they do not have the least respect for human life, which is the most basic human rights issue.
Importance of Considering Economic Implications of Corona Crisis
He stressed the importance of considering the economic consequences of the crisis, noting that the Corona crisis and the lifting of sanctions should not be restricted to mere transportation of goods and the supply of medical items. He added that the big recession that has been treated due to quarantine and the fears created by the crisis has hit the economies of all the affected countries with the crisis. The United States is a major example.
“The first thing that needs to be done is to ensure there is money,” he said, addressing the basic needs of the people facing the Corona crisis. You need money to pay for the basic necessities of those who can’t get back to their jobs. It’s a human issue here, and it’s not just economic. Subsidies must be provided for life to continue in society and not to create widespread public poverty while we are facing this problem. Many businesses are shut down because of Corona, and they must be supported.
The US administration has said it intends to inject a $4 trillion package into its economy and will definitely need money. In this situation, the second aspect and a bigger problem that the sanctions have created for the Iranian government will be exposed. We are not able to make money naturally because the US government has blocked all the ways of money-making to Iran.
Failure of Sanctions Will Not Lessen US Responsibility
The university professor added: “It is true that the sanctions have not been successful in all areas and we have been able to continue our business, but that does not diminish the responsibility of the Americans who are working against the interests of the Iranian people. One of our major concerns was to lift these bans under the current circumstances so that the Iranian government could easily meet the basic needs of its citizens, just like elsewhere in the world. But the Americans not only disagreed, but they also boycotted corporations and individuals inside and outside Iran in the wake of the Corona crisis, insisting that they would not abandon the sanctions at all, and that is where the sanctions expose their inhumane nature.
America’s Inhumane Actions Opposed to Slogans
Koohkan also stressed: “No matter what slogans the White House officials are chanting these days, as they themselves have explicitly stated, these sanctions are intended to put direct pressure on the Iranian people to become frustrated and rise up against the establishment. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has explicitly said Iran leaders will have to fall in line if ‘they want their people to eat.’ With this philosophy, when they act within the literature of international relations, there is no longer any question as to why they do so, but it certainly has nothing to do with the slogans they give.”
US Slogans Due to International Pressure
He said the slogans were due to international pressure on US officials, citing the obstacles thrown in the way of an IMF loan requested by Iran to cope with the Coronavirus crisis. He added: “It shows that the Americans are hoping, as some of their officials have explicitly stated, that Coronavirus will do what the Americans failed to do through the sanctions and it would incite a social crisis. During the sanctions, they failed to act, succeed and cause a social crisis in Iran. Hopefully, this will not happen with the management of the government is, but the American efforts to create this humanitarian crisis are quite obvious.
The professor evaluated the US efforts for self-defence because of international pressure and political consultations and added: “Of course, these pressures do not change the US policy, as we have seen in the case of Cuba. Every year, all UN member states in a resolution condemn the Cuban sanctions; even US allies agree that the sanctions are inhumane, but they have not been lifted yet. What can change these conditions is the feeling among Americans that this policy will not get anywhere.
“Before international pressures could convince the Americans to lift Iran’s sanctions the news that Iran’s economy under the most intense international pressure was able to spend the first nine months of the last calendar years with positive growth in the non-oil sector is significant. If the Corona crisis had not occurred, this would have been a better way to get them to think much more about changing their policy towards Iran. If other countries too get frustrated with the fruitfulness of US policies, the charm of Iran’s market will persuade them to ignore the US sanctions.