The United States has imposed new sanctions against 20 companies, officials and individuals in Iran and Iraq, despite growing global pressure on the US to end sanctions on Iran as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement on Thursday the sanctions freeze any US-held assets of those designated and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
The statement accused those sanctioned of supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the IRGC’s Quds Force, as well as Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah, a pro-government resistance group, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, a subdivision of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
The US Treasury also accused the people and entities of smuggling weapons to Iraq and Yemen and selling Iranian oil to the Syrian government.
Over the past week, calls have been growing on the international stage for the US to lift the illegal sanctions, which have hampered Tehran’s access to lifesaving medical supplies at the current critical time.
Turning a deaf ear to those calls, the US has instead claimed readiness to aid Iranians, with President Donald Trump saying “all they (Iranians) have to do is ask.”
Iran has roundly denounced the claims as hypocritical, saying if the US genuinely sought to help it out, it should lift its sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic.
Trump and his secretary of state Mike Pompeo have, on several occasions, extended a self-proclaimed helping hand towards Iran, with the top American diplomat accusing the Iranian medical system of suffering from weakness in the battle against the new virus.
Tehran has rejected Washington’s offer as meaningless as long as Washington keeps the economic bans in place and prevents Iran from utilizing its own resources in the fight against the disease.