Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Patients wait for their results in front of the Keyvan Virology Laboratory to confirm the coronavirus cases in Tehran, Iran on March 10, 2020. (Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Accusing US of 'Medical Terrorism,' Iran Demands Trump Lift Drug Import Sanctions Amid Coronavirus Crisis

"The oppressive and illegal American sanctions have affected public welfare and health in Iran."

Jake Johnson

Facing a humanitarian crisis with at least 9,000 coronavirus cases nationwide and a death toll of more than 350 people, Iranian officials on Wednesday demanded that the U.S. lift crippling food and drug import sanctions that Tehran says have hindered the government's ability to respond effectively to the outbreak.

"It's fighting the disease at a time when a huge part of its national budget has been eliminated by U.S. sanctions. The sanctions continue to be a crime against humanity."
—Sina Toossi, National Iranian American Council

"The oppressive and illegal American sanctions, which [have been imposed on Iran] within the framework of the 'maximum pressure' campaign, have affected public welfare and health in Iran," Abbas Mousavi, spokesperson for Iran's foreign ministry, told reporters Wednesday.

Mousavi said the U.S. sanctions have restricted Iran's access to crucial medicines and supplies as the novel coronavirus—formally known as COVID-19—continues to spread across the country, killing more than 350 people.

In a tweet last Saturday, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif called the U.S. sanctions a form of "medical terrorism."

Ali Larijani, Iran's speaker of Parliament, urged the international community on Wednesday to pressure the U.S. to lift the sanctions, which President Donald Trump reimposed in 2018 after ditching the Iran nuclear agreement.

The U.S. sanctions regime "clearly violates the U.N. Charter and that of the World Health Organization (WHO) and has not only seriously hampered Iran's intensive efforts to help affected people and contain the spread of the coronavirus, but also left negative and undeniable impacts on all national, regional, and international efforts to contain the virus," Larijani wrote in letters addressed to several international organizations, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Calls for the Trump administration to end its economic warfare against Iran come amid reports that Iranian hospitals are struggling to handle the influx of patients due to the coronavirus, which has hit Iran far harder than any other country in the Middle East.

"Iran is one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus," tweeted Sina Toossi, senior research analyst with the National Iranian American Council. "It's fighting the disease at a time when a huge part of its national budget has been eliminated by U.S. sanctions... The sanctions continue to be a crime against humanity."

Desperate to treat or prevent coronavirus, some ordinary Iranians have resorted to consuming bootleg alcohol after the circulation of a false rumor that drinking alcohol can stop the infection. According to Iranian media, 44 people have died of alcohol poisoning after attempting to treat the coronavirus with bootleg liquor that contained methanol.

"The coronavirus outbreak in Iran is serious," tweeted Iranian-American journalist and BBC commentator Negar Mortazavi. "The government hasn't been transparent about data, mismanagement and incompetence has led to more chaos, there is a shortage of medical resources made worse by sanctions, and tons of misinformation made inside and outside the country."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Agency Condemns 'Homophobic and Racist' Monkeypox Reporting

"Stigma hurts everyone," says one ranking UNAIDS official. "Shared science and social solidarity help everyone."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·


Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo