5th Apr 2020


Letter from Iran to EU parliament on US sanctions

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Honourable members of the European Parliament,

I write to you to express my deepest concerns over the increasingly egregious impact of the unlawful US sanctions on the lives of ordinary civilians in Iran. 

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You may recall that, following years of intense diplomacy, Iran and the P5+1 countries concluded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 14 July 2015, subsequently confirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

In return for limits on Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, the P5+1 countries, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany, are committed to lifting sanctions and normalising trade with Iran. However, on 8 May 2018, US president Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA.

At the ministerial Joint Commission in Vienna on 6 July 2018, the remaining participants recommitted themselves to 11 practical areas to keep Iran in the deal. Subsequently, however, US sanctions were reinstated in November 2018.

Prior to president Trump's revocation of the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had confirmed in nine reports Iran's full compliance. Since then, while the US has callously reinstated sanctions, five further IAEA reports, reiterated Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.

At the same time, the 11 areas intended to keep Iran in the deal have yet to be delivered upon.

Quite clearly, the US sanctions are designed to punish all Iranians collectively.

The US treasury continues to penalise businesses and banks in Europe and elsewhere for violating its extraterritorial sanctions.

The treasury fraudulently claims that food and health are exempted from their sanctions. But this is, in fact, not true.

Following Iran's complaint, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Washington to lift the restrictive measures in October 2019 linked to humanitarian trade, food, medicine, and civil aviation. Washington refused to comply with the ICJ's ruling, arguing that this was a matter of national security.

Also, attempts by Switzerland to open a payment channel to facilitate the importation of key medical and food supplies, has not materialised because of the US delaying tactics.

The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo even told the BBC on 9 November 2018 that the Iranian "leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat!".

In a multitude of ways, US sanctions, and in particular banking restrictions, continue to constrain Iran's ability to import food commodities. As such, delays in food delivery are more frequent.

For example, in July 2019, Iranian grain vessels were stranded for weeks at Brazilian ports without fuel due to the US sanctions. This results in urgent food shortages and increased prices.

Such actions are clearly in violation of the international human rights law of the "right to adequate food", as stipulated in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Health standards in Iran are in danger of critical decline, due to a severe shortage of life-saving medical supplies. Banking restrictions cause delays in the supply of raw material for domestic medicines.

They also create shortages of advanced medicines and medical equipment to the detriment of patients suffering especially from cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and haemophilia.

Again, this reflects a violation of the ICESCR 's Article 12 of "the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health".

Iranian airline employees and Iranian passengers are being seriously put at risk by the revocation of civil aviation licenses. It has now become impossible for Iran to buy or lease aircraft, or to purchase spare parts.

Indeed, companies at European airports refuse to refuel Iranian airlines, even those not under the current sanctions. These are in blatant violation of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

With regard to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Iran during the recent flood, Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on 5 August 2019, that "the delivery of aid to Afghan refugees and flood victims in Iran is at risk because banks are refusing to transfer money to aid agencies due to fear of sanctions."

This inhumane approach is ominously taking a heavy toll, to which the American administration turns a blind eye. No doubt that the US administration's full-fledged economic terrorism on the Iranians amounts to "crimes against humanity".

We have taken due note of the EU and the European Parliament's principled advocacy in support of the JCPOA, with appreciation.

These policy statements, however, need to be complemented with practical measures.

Such actions will permit the Iranian nation to derive the benefits to which it is justly entitled by sticking to its part of the JCPOA.

Allow me to conclude by reiterating that Iran is a proud nation with a rich civilisation and a history of resilience. Our sovereignty will not succumb to any form of foreign coercion.

What we seek, however, is justice. Other partners of goodwill must shed indifference, inaction and mild expressions of regret in the face of one country which has reneged on an agreement freely entered-into by all the consenting parties.

History judges nations, and people, by the way they act when matters of principle are at stake.

Kind regards,

Author bio

Peiman Seadat is the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the European Union.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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