On 21 March 2020, the Facebook page “Politicano” posted that the Iranian doctor Shirin Rouhani, while suffering from coronavirus, continued to treat patients and unfortunately, lost her life to the infection. The photo accompanying the post shows Shirin Rouhani connected to a drip.
Politicano links the death of the doctor to a critical situation with regard to coronavirus in the country and asserts that US sanctions prevent Iran from importing medical supplies in sufficient amounts, making it difficult for the country to respond to coronavirus.
Politicano’s claim that Iran cannot effectively fight against coronavirus due to US sanctions is manipulation. The World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union and other countries have already provided humanitarian and financial assistance to Iran. The United States had also offered assistance to Iran, though Ayatollah Khamenei turned it down.
- The US sanctions do not prevent Iran from receiving assistance
Politicano manipulatively links the death of doctor Shirin Rouhani to the US sanctions. In reality, the US sanctions do not hinder the shipment of humanitarian aid. This can be proved by the following facts:
- On 23 March 2020, the WHO delivered various medical supplies for COVID-19 response in Islamic Republic of Iran;
- The EU gave €20 million to Iran to help it in treating infected patients;
- The US eased its policy of sanctions to allow for financial transactions with Iran and delivery of aid from other countries;
- Switzerland also sent aid to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar provided financial assistance to the country too.
- The USA offered help to Iran in the fight against coronavirus, but the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, refused the offer, calling it a “biological attack.”
Regarding this issue the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo tweeted on 25 March that instead of blaming the US, Iran could better serve its people by accepting the US humanitarian aid.
The above listed facts indicate that the US sanctions do not prevent other countries from providing humanitarian aid to Iran. As regards the sacrifice of doctor Shirin Rouhani, it must be noted that Iran experiences acute shortage of nurses. Very low salaries forces around 1,000 nurses to migrate from the country annually.
- Why the USA does not lift sanctions on Iran?
On 23 March 2020, the US Department of State published a fact-sheet of disinformation spread by Iran about the USA. According to the fact-sheet, the Iranian government did not provide its population with timely information about the spread of the virus and admitted it only nine days after the first reported death. Against the spread of COVID-19, Iran’s airline, Mahan Air, operated at least 55 flights between Tehran and China in February 2020, thus jeopardizing the health of its citizens. Such irresponsible behavior is one of the reasons why the US has not lifted sanctions on Iran so far.
Despite the global pandemic, the USA does not intend to lift sanctions because Iran may use the provided financial assistance for some other purpose than it is intended for. The fact-sheet published on the US State Department webpage notes that Iran has repeatedly used the humanitarian assistance for purposes other than intended and to strengthen its theocratic regime. In July 2019, one billion euros intended for medical supplies disappeared while another $170 million dollars allocated for medical goods were used to purchase tobacco.
The United States has imposed restrictions on Iran since 1979, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. UN Security Council resolutions of 2006-2010 lists the main reasons of sanctions imposed on Iran:
- The development of nuclear weapons;
- Actions in 1981-1987 against vessels of the USA and countries of the Persian Gulf and the support of terrorists;
- Despite imposed restrictions, illegal uranium mining for its further use in the development of nuclear weapons;
- Attacks on neighboring countries organized by Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps;
- Violation of human rights and support of bloody regime in Iran.
Prepared by Goga Katalandze
Myth Detector Lab