Warren asks administration for assurances that sanctions aren't hindering coronavirus containment in Iran

Warren asks administration for assurances that sanctions aren't hindering coronavirus containment in Iran
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Mnuchin, Schumer in talks to strike short-term relief deal | Small businesses struggling for loans | Treasury IG sends Dems report on handling of Trump tax returns Trump says Obama knows 'something that you don't know' about Biden Senators push for changes to small business aid MORE (D-Mass.) is seeking assurances from the Trump administration that humanitarian aid to Iran is not being hindered by U.S. sanctions amid the global spread of the coronavirus.

“I understand that humanitarian items are exempt from United States sanctions, that the Iranian government has the primary responsibility for the health of its citizens, and that a deficient response to the coronavirus outbreak by the Iranian government should not be blamed on the United States or any other foreign power,” Warren wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal House Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans On The Money: Mnuchin, Schumer in talks to strike short-term relief deal | Small businesses struggling for loans | Treasury IG sends Dems report on handling of Trump tax returns MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP Rep calls for US to bring international case against China over coronavirus Belarus's risky coronavirus strategy House Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump MORE.

“At the same time, I am concerned about the vulnerability of the Iranian people to the coronavirus and the potential for Iran's coronavirus cases to worsen the spread of the disease to neighboring countries, including regional allies, and to the rest of the world,” she added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Iran has the most coronavirus deaths after China.

The Treasury Department on Thursday issued a license to allow humanitarian aid to go to Iran through a Swiss channel.

Warren argued that while the Treasury Department has taken some steps toward allowing humanitarian trade, banks and businesses are still reluctant to finance those transactions.

During congressional testimony Friday, Pompeo said the U.S. “fully supports” sending humanitarian aid to Iran.

“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help, and we’ve made it clear to others around the world and in the region that assistance, humanitarian assistance to push back against the coronavirus in Iran is something the United States of America fully supports,” Pompeo told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

When asked if the administration would waive sanctions to help fight coronavirus in Iran, Pompeo denied reports that the sanctions have made it difficult for Iranians to access medical supplies.

“There has been continuously an avenue for the movement of medical and humanitarian goods inside the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “They have not been sanctioned at any time, before the advent of coronavirus or concurrently.”