REVIEW - European Politicians Call To Lift Iran Sanctions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


REVIEW - European Politicians Call to Lift Iran Sanctions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

BRUSSELS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 26th March, 2020) Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, opined on Tuesday that in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions against various countries like Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and others should be eased or suspended to help them deal with the spread of the disease.

At the same time, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo maintains that there is no rationale for reducing the sanction pressure and that the sanctions do nor even affect medical aid.

On Monday, nine members of the US Congress signed a letter to both Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, urging them to stop enforcing sanctions against Iran fashioning the initiative as a humanitarian gesture toward the Iranian people.

Some of their European colleagues have similar positions as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.

"Financial sanctions should therefore be temporarily suspended so that the Iranian government can buy medical equipment and medicines on the international market. Iranian accounts abroad can be released for this purpose until the WHO declares the crisis to be over," Armin-Paulus Hampel, a German lawmaker from the right-wing Alternative for Germany political party, told Sputnik.

Pietro Fiocchi, a member of the European Parliament from Fratelli d'Italia allied with the Lega party of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, shares the sentiment.

"In Italy, we have bridled at the US efforts to prohibit our companies from doing business with Iran just like we are tired of maintaining sanctions on Russia for the return of Crimea.

This must stop, even if only temporarily, for Iran, to make it possible for each country to fight the epidemic with the best tools and tests available," Fiocchi told Sputnik.

His colleague Gilles Lebreton from France's National Rally party, who is also a law professor at the University of Le Havre, supports lifting sanctions against Tehran as well as Havana and Caracas.

"The sanctions against Cuba (exemplary in its aid against the coronavirus) and Venezuela must no doubt be lifted. For Iran, we can obviously be more hesitant, but I also support it, given the scale of the pandemic in this country, on condition that precautions are taken so that the aid is not diverted from its recipients," he told Sputnik.

Despite the calls for lifting the sanctions the prospects of such an initiative currently remain dim, as the previous attempts to do so by Europe did not lead to anything of substance, according to Professor Pierre Vercauteren, a political scientist from UCLouvain university in Belgium.

"It is a difficult situation. In the case of Iran for example, the Europeans disagreed with the US on the reinstatement of the sanctions by the Trump administration, but they could not create the 'financial vehicle' that they had promised to companies and Iran, for bypassing the American sanctions," he told Sputnik.

With that in mind, it is unlikely that any real attempt to release Iran and similar countries from the burden of sanctions is possible without US involvement.

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