2020 Election

Biden Calls for Iran Sanctions Relief Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

U.S. sanctions do not prevent Iran from importing medicine, humanitarian aid

Joe Biden
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Former vice president Joe Biden is calling on the Trump administration to provide economic sanctions relief to Iran, falsely claiming the administration's measures are preventing Iran from importing medicine and humanitarian aid to combat the coronavirus.

Biden, in a statement issued Thursday, said that despite the Iranian regime spending billions of dollars on arming regional terror groups, the United States should create special financial channels to allow Tehran access to the global banking system.

"Iran is struggling to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world," Biden said. "While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately."

"It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance," Biden continued. "Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people."

While Biden stated during an interview Sunday on Meet the Press that he did not have enough information to take a stance on sanctions relief, he is now pressuring the Trump administration to drop its "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran.

"The Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a ‘maximum pressure' strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program," Biden said in the statement.

The Trump administration has never applied sanctions to humanitarian aid or medicine. It also made several offers of assistance to Iranian leadership, which the regime turned down.

"There are already humanitarian exceptions in place for sanctions," Biden admitted. "But in practice, most governments and organizations are too concerned about running afoul of U.S. sanctions to offer assistance. As a result, our sanctions are limiting Iran's access to medical supplies and needed equipment."

There is little evidence that U.S. sanctions have stymied the Iranian regime's response to coronavirus. Expert analysis shows that Iran's importation of medicine and other humanitarian goods from Europe has remained mostly level since the Trump administration reapplied wide-ranging sanctions in November 2018.

"We have not faced a shortage of special drugs needed to treat this disease," Saeed Namaki, the Islamic Republic's health minister said earlier this week.

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) criticized Biden's statement as "absurd & tone deaf" on Twitter.

"You know full well that Iran has refused US aid. Iran refuses to spend the mullah's money on medical supplies, equipment, and basic needs," RJC said. "The sanctions don't restrict Iran from buying any of this stuff, it's [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei's greed."

The State Department estimates that Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid since mid-2019.