As Iran buckles under the weight of a growing COVID-19 epidemic, the US has consistently refused to lift its suffocating economic sanctions.
“My country is among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus,” said Zarif in a video shared on his Twitter account.
Iranian health authorities have confirmed nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 1,400 deaths.
“Iran, today, is the most intensely sanctioned country in history, not in line with UN decisions, but contrary to them,” added the minister, deploring the social and economic consequences of the American sanctions.
According to Zarif, the economic siege of Iran does not respect international law and deprives Iranians of vital resources, including medical supplies and essential goods.
“Even amid this pandemic, the US government has vengefully refused to lift its unlawful and collective punishment, making it virtually impossible for us to even buy medicine and medical equipment,” said Zarif.
The Iranian FM also criticized other countries for their alleged compliance with the American pressure on Iran.
“The bigger tragedy is that many companies and countries who officially opposed these sanctions have chosen to comply with them, perhaps in hopes of avoiding the future wrath of the US despite President Trump time and again proving that this is just wishful thinking,” added Zarif.
The Iranian minister’s message to the US and the international community coincides with Nowruz, the Persian new year, on March 20.
“At a time when we, Iranians, normally celebrate Nowruz, our New Year concurrent with the arrival of spring, we are faced with multiple and historic challenges,” Zarif lamented.
In response to the speech, the US administration said that the COVID-19 pandemic will not save Iran from the sanctions, reported Reuters.
The “maximum pressure” campaign from the US aims to curb Iran’s nuclear, missile, and regional activities. However, it does not stop the flow of humanitarian goods, argued US Special Representative for Iranian Affairs Brian Hook.
“US sanctions are not preventing aid from getting to Iran,” he insisted.
The American reaction to the speech did not meet Iran’s expectations. Zarif went on to Twitter once again, accusing the US administration of “taking pride in killing Iranian citizens on Nowruz.”
The White House shows “utter contempt for human life,” he asserted.
Despite the US pressure and the major COVID-19 outbreak, “Iran won’t break,” Zarif vowed.