Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Members of the women-led peace group CodePink protest in 2020 outside the United States Treasury Department against U.S. sanctions on Iran during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Medea Benjamin/CodePink)

Members of the women-led peace group CodePink protest in 2020 outside the United States Treasury Department against U.S. sanctions on Iran during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Medea Benjamin/CodePink) 

Amid Nuclear Talks, 40 Groups Urge Biden to Lift Sanctions on Covid-Ravaged Iran

"By prioritizing humanitarian relief for Iran and other sanctioned states, President Biden can follow through on his campaign commitment and demonstrate that the U.S. can be a force for global good."

Brett Wilkins

As diplomats continue negotiations in Vienna aimed at the United States returning to the Iran nuclear deal, over 40 faith-based, human rights, and civil society groups on Wednesday published an open letter urging the Biden administration to lift "unconscionable" sanctions against the Iranian people as they endure the dual crises of the economic embargo and coronavirus pandemic.

"The suffering of people in Iran has been compounded by U.S. sanctions, which have impoverished the population and obstructed the flow of critical medicine and humanitarian goods into Iran."
—letter

The letter (pdf)—whose signatories include the American Friends Service Committee, CodePink, MoveOn, MPower Change, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and Veterans for Peace—implores President Joe Biden "to follow through on his call for urgently needed humanitarian relief to Iran amid the devastating toll of the Covid-19 pandemic."

"The suffering of people in Iran has been compounded by U.S. sanctions, which have impoverished the population and obstructed the flow of critical medicine and humanitarian goods into Iran," it states. 

Noting that more than 60,000 Iranians have died of Covid-19—as well as the possibility of a death toll that's actually two or three times higher—the letter asserts that Biden "must take a different approach" from that of former President Donald Trump, whose administration "chose to escalate sanctions rather than relieve them," despite widespread international calls for relief. 

"Covid-19 is a shared threat, and the U.S. needs to treat it like one," the letter says. "By prioritizing humanitarian relief for Iran and other sanctioned states, Biden can follow through on his campaign commitment and demonstrate that the U.S. can be a force for global good."

NIAC president Jamal Abdi said in a statement that "the biggest concern we hear from our members right now is the impact of sanctions on their loved ones in Iran."

"Our family and friends find it increasingly difficult to secure and afford critical medicine like insulin and cancer treatments, and are struggling with mass unemployment and inflation," said Abdi. "Biden knows that urgent steps are needed to ease sanctions on ordinary Iranians. Many members of the Iranian American community are counting on him to live up to his campaign commitment and ensure sanctions do not block humanitarian trade with Iran."

"Biden knows that urgent steps are needed to ease sanctions on ordinary Iranians. Many members of the Iranian American community are counting on him to live up to his campaign commitment and ensure sanctions do not block humanitarian trade with Iran."
—Jamal Abdi, NIAC

The Wall Street Journal reports the Biden administration has signaled a willingness to ease some sanctions against Iran—including those targeting the country's oil and financial sectors—as nuclear talks continue in the Austrian capital.

Iranian diplomats sounded optimistic notes as they seek a path for American reentry into the landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—commonly referred to as the Iranian nuclear deal—from which Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018.

"We are on the right track and some progress has been made, but this does not mean that the talks in Vienna have reached the final stage," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports former U.S. Secretary of State and presumptive 2024 Republican presidential candidate Mike Pompeo was on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday as a "private citizen" to support GOP lawmakers seeking to keep the United States out of the JCPOA.

The former top Trump official was heckled outside the Capitol by protesters who called him a "Republican war hog" and shouted "Peace with Iran" and "Pompeo go home!"


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo