US sanctions against Iran have not caused any shortages in medicine needed to treat coronavirus patients since the beginning of the outbreak in the Islamic Republic, according to Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
“Although it is difficult to combat coronavirus under sanctions, we have not had any shortages in the medicine required to treat coronavirus patients since the start of the outbreak,” Namaki was quoted as saying on Monday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Washington-based NGO National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and a group of Iranian Americans had recently launched a campaign calling for US sanctions against the Islamic Republic to be lifted amid the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the sanctions hinder Iran’s access to medicine and medical supplies.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday that the Iranian foreign ministry was the entity behind the campaign.
NIAC has been repeatedly accused of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime, working against the interests of the Iranian diaspora in the US whom it claims to represent, and coordinating with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iranian Americans opposing the Islamic Republic responded to the campaign by pointing out that sanctions against the regime do not target imports of humanitarian aid into Iran, and that sanctions relief will only strengthen the regime, rather than help ordinary Iranians.
Iran and several of its allies also called on the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a joint letter on Saturday to push for waiving US sanctions against them amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The US sanctions “hinder efforts of countries in effectively fighting the coronavirus disease,” according to the letter, official Iranian news agency IRNA said.
Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami have said that Iran does not need and will not accept any US help to combat coronavirus.
Pointing to the regime’s efforts to have US sanctions lifted while insisting on refusing any US help against coronavirus, some Iranian activists accuse the Islamic Republic of using the coronavirus pandemic to have all sanctions against it lifted.
Iran, the worst-hit Middle Eastern country so far, has the highest number of coronavirus cases and death toll in the region, with the country reporting 41,495 confirmed cases and 2,757 deaths as of Monday.