Now is the time for COVID-19 related diplomacy!

U.S. sanctions on Iran are contributing to Iran being an epicenter of the coronavirus. 

As of Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Iran has reported close to 25,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 2,000 deaths. The country has issued a warning that millions may die.

Sign the letter to the U.S. Treasury Department calling on them to issue statements and lift the sanctions. There is no time to waste. COVID-19 related diplomacy is immediately needed.  

*Click here to donate for immediate medical supplies to Iran

Dear U.S. Treasury Department

We are asking that you take urgent action on humanitarian grounds to lift the U.S. sanctions against Iran. Now is the time for COVID-19 diplomacy. As of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Iran has reported over 16,000 COVID-19 cases and over 1,000 deaths. The country is warning that millions may die. This is due, in part, to unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran that have caused Iran to suffer from a shortage of the medical supplies, products, and equipment required for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the coronavirus. 

By the time the coronavirus hit Iran on February 19, the country’s economy had already been devastated by U.S. sanctions. The rial lost 80 percent of its value and the sale of oil dropped from a high of 2.5 million barrels a day in early 2018 to about 250,000 barrels. This left the government with scant resources to cover the enormous costs of dealing with direct medical treatment for patients suffering from the coronavirus, as well as supporting workers who are losing their jobs and helping businesses going bankrupt.

Humanitarian aid—food and medicine—was supposed to be exempt from sanctions. But that hasn’t been the case. Shipping and insurance companies have been unwilling to risk doing business with Iran, and banks have not been able or willing to process payments. 

In October 2019, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report citing that “the overbroad and burdensome nature of the US sanctions [on Iran] has led banks and companies around the world to pull back from humanitarian trade with Iran, leaving Iranians who have rare or complicated diseases unable to get the medicine and treatment they require.” 

On February 27, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would waive sanctions for certain humanitarian supplies to go through Iran’s central bank. But it was far too little, far too late, as the spread of coronavirus is yet to slow in Iran. 

Health, hygiene, and access to medical care are fundamental human rights, regardless of race, religion, and nationality. For the sake of the health and well-being of 80 million Iranians and their neighbors, we call on you to issue statements, resolutions, and/or legislation calling for the U.S. to immediately lift its sanctions on Iran to assist the country in coping with the extreme coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the nation. 

Now is the time for COVID-19 diplomacy. We call on: 

  • The U.S. Treasury Department to immediately lift all sanctions on Iran pertaining to healthcare products, medicine, medical laboratory kits, and equipment. In addition, we call on you to lift all the sanctions on Iran, ending the campaign of maximum pressure that is crippling the Iranian economy.


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