HRW urges US to ease Iran sanctions amid coronavirus pandemic
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the US to take immediate action and ease its sanctions on Iran amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the bans are “negatively affecting the Iranian government’s ability to adequately respond” to the crisis.
According to Tasnim news agency, in a report published on Monday, the HRW said the sanctions “are negatively affecting the Iranian government’s ability to adequately respond to the mounting health consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic".
Washington “should take immediate action to ease US sanctions and expand licensing of sanctions-exempt items to ensure Iran’s access to essential humanitarian resources during the pandemic,” the New York-based rights group added, according to its official website.
Washington’s sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank “seriously threatened the flow of exempted humanitarian trade to Iran,” it said.
Although the US claims that it has exempted humanitarian supplies from the sanctions, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has cut the number of its so-called “general licenses” for Iran-headed exports from more than 50 percent to 10 percent, HRW said.
It also refuses to expand the licenses so they could include more items, it added.
“This means that equipment crucial to fighting the virus, including ventilators, CT scanners, decontamination equipment, and full-mask respirators, require a special license,” the body wrote.