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The fresh round of sanctions against Iran's beleaguered economy will essentially shut the country out of the global financial system.
The U.S. Treasury department Thursday sanctioned 18 Iranian banks, 16 of them targeted for "operating in Iran's financial sector," another affiliated with Iran's military, and yet another for being controlled by a sanctioned Iranian bank.
European nations have opposed blanket sanctions against Iran's financial sector as they expose foreign banks that do business with blacklisted banks to punitive measures from the United States. Critics have also contended that US sanctions obstruct food, medicines, and other humanitarian aid to the Persian nation.
The Treasury Department announced in a statement that it had "identified the financial sector of Iran's economy as an additional avenue that fund's the Iranian government's malign activities." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin further assured in a follow-up statement that "today's action will continue to allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people."
In response, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif repudiated Mnuchin's claims that the latest round of sanctions would not impact humanitarian transactions.
Amid Covid19 pandemic, U.S. regime wants to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine.
Iranians WILL survive this latest of cruelties.
But conspiring to starve a population is a crime against humanity. Culprits & enablers—who block our money—WILL face justice. pic.twitter.com/n0fnXPNik8
In a tweet, Zarif wrote: “Amid Covid19 pandemic, U.S. regime wants to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine. Iranians WILL survive this latest of cruelties. But conspiring to starve a population is a crime against humanity. Culprits & enablers—who block our money—WILL face justice.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Iran is the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 488,000 positive cases and 27,000 lives lost.
Despite calls from the United Nations and other multilateral bodies to halt all economic sanctions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has not relented in its aggressive campaign in the lead up to the November 3 presidential elections against Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.