Mar 30, 2020, 4:30 PM
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Iran envoy urges humanity to be united in fight against pandemic

Tehran, March 30, IRNA - Iran's Ambassador to China Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh in an article published by Chinese media 'Global Times' said on Monday that humanity must be united against coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past few months, the world has witnessed the greatest fight, commanded by Chinese President Xi Jinping, against one of most dangerous public health disasters in China. 

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in China, without any exaggeration, I felt as if I had stumbled onto the set of a post-­apocalyptic film. My colleagues and I were here when China approached a tipping point in the spread of the coronavirus and felt pain for those communities, families and individuals who were ­affected by the tragic outbreak of the COVID-19 disease. 

Yet as China's battle with the coronavirus intensified, we have seen the progress being made through the ­sacrifices of the Chinese people and government. China is already beginning to see success through the government's measures. 

Across China, only a handful of new cases are being reported each day, and many of them are people who have flown back into China from overseas.

Unlike what is now happening in China, countries all over the world are seeing an increase in cases of coronavirus. 

Iran has not been an exception. From February 18, when Iran detected its first coronavirus case, until today, the epidemic has spread ­rapidly across the country and the number has spiked. The confirmed coronavirus death toll in Iran has risen to at least 2,640. 

Iran's health ministry has said that one person dies from coronavirus every 10 minutes and 50 are becoming infected every hour. 

It seems that Iran is in the first stage of the coronavirus outbreak and the pressure faced by Iran's healthcare system from the influx of patients is likely being experienced elsewhere. 

In this situation, no one in the world knows better than our Chinese friends what we are going through. For this reason, the Chinese­ ­government and people sent their unconditional assistance to Iran and supported my country in its fight against the epidemic. 

We were therefore encouraged to support China when the message sent by ­President Xi to ­President Hassan Rouhani was received. In his message, President Xi expressed ­heartfelt sympathies to the Iranian government and people over the epidemic and emphasized that China will help Iran beat the disease. 

China has offered Iran a batch of anti-epidemic supplies and sent a team of health experts.

As the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I should express that we will never forget such friends, who stood by our country during this tough time, and will compare it with the hypocritical behavior of the United States.

Iran entered this dire ­situation at a time when the government was already under extreme pressure from the illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed by the US. 

Since 2018, when the US withdrew from the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal) and imposed crippling sanctions as part of the White House's so-called maximum pressure campaign, US sanctions have hampered Iran's ability to purchase or access medical equipment or pharmaceuticals in the international ­market, as there is no financial mechanism to fulfill these transactions. 

Iran has been unable to purchase medical equipment and medicine even from European companies due to fears by European banks of being sanctioned by the US Treasury Department if it traded with Tehran. 

Despite the deceitful ­statement by the US ­Treasury that its sanctions do not prohibit humanitarian ­contributions to Iran intended to ease difficulties caused by the coronavirus, the Trump ­administration said it would not offer sanctions relief to Iran amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak, and in the latest development, the US recently imposed new sanctions for doing business with Iran. 

Technically speaking, the US sanctions exempt humanitarian goods, but the reality is different. 

Even before the outbreak, it was reported by the authorities and international organizations that Iran's health system abilities are hampered by a shortage of medical equipment. 

Last year, Human Rights Watch said that the "­maximum pressure" imposed by US sanctions have led to the country being unable to ­effectively treat cancer ­patients and rare blood disorders. 

There is no doubt that unlawful US sanctions have drained Iran's economic resources and impaired its ability to fight COVID-19, a fact that is accepted by the international community. 

We welcome China's stance in this regard outlined by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. 

Geng said at a routine news conference, "We urge the US to immediately lift unilateral sanctions on Iran. Continued sanctions are against humanitarianism and hamper Iran's epidemic response and delivery of humanitarian aid by the UN and other organizations."

Here, I can summarize the points in just one sentence: Humanity must unite to fight this pandemic, and it is important to understand that the failure of one will lead to the failure of all. 

It is time for the international community to stand up to the US' unlawful and inhumane bullying. 

The sanctions will turn to genocide against Iran if the international community succumbs to US bullying.

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