Amidst a growing health crisis that is decimating the Iranian population, the Trump administration refuses to back down from its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
Iran is one of the countries that has been hit hardest by the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. As of March 23, 2020, there have been over 23,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in the country, and more than 1,800 people have died. Experts say as many as 3.5 million people could die. The country is struggling to respond to the overwhelming number of cases. And this struggle is worsening in part due to the increasingly crippling sanctions that President Trump is enforcing against the country.
President Trump declared he would no longer escalate tensions with Iran. But this has not stopped the U.S. from continuing its “maximum pressure” campaign, imposing further sanctions against Iran. On March 19th, President Trump added additional sanctions against 12 companies trading with Iran. Britain and China have called on the US to ease sanctions for humanitarian reasons, as the sanctions prevent Iran from effectively combating this health crisis. President Trump has refused.
For its part, Iran has continued to violate the Iran Nuclear Deal in response to U.S. withdrawal and subsequent sanctions. Now, the IAEA has reported that Iran has tripled its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. This puts it within the threshold of the amount required to create a single nuclear weapon. Iran is also blocking IAEA inspectors from visiting three sites where prior nuclear activity allegedly occurred. Despite insistence that it does not desire nuclear weapons, this activity is concerning.
Nevertheless, humanitarian concerns demand action and sanctions relief. The U.S. needs to assist Iran during this global health crisis.