Biden calls for sanctions relief for Iran during coronavirus pandemic
Former Vice President Joe Biden called for the government to ease its sanctions on Iran as the country struggles to contain an exploding coronavirus outbreak.
“In times of global crisis, America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. And, in the midst of this deadly pandemic that respects no borders, the United States should take steps to offer what relief we can to those nations hardest hit by this virus — including Iran — even as we prioritize the health of the American people,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden admitted that Iran has exacerbated the pandemic growing within its borders by concealing the true number of cases it faces, but said the Trump administration was cruel to “[inhibit] access to needed humanitarian assistance.”
The former vice president specifically called for issuing “broad licenses” to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, easing the path for international banks, transportation companies and insurers to provide medical treatment and issuing new sanctions guidance to those groups and international aid organizations regarding how they can combat COVID-19 in Iran.
While the Trump administration has already offered aid to Iran, Biden said the gesture would do little good if not accompanied by sanctions relief.
“The administration’s offer of aid to Iran is insufficient if not backed by concrete steps to ensure the United States is not exacerbating this growing humanitarian crisis. Whatever our many, many disagreements with the Iranian government, it’s the right and the humane thing to do,” he said. “To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together.”
The call comes as Iran scrambles to curtail the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus within its borders. More than 50,000 Iranians have been infected with the illness, and more than 3,000 have died in Iran.
Iran has said the lifting of U.S. sanctions would help it in the fight against COVID-19, but expressed skepticism that the White House would agree to such a move.
“American leaders are lying. … If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions. … Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech last week.
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