Pompeo: US may consider easing sanctions on Iran

Secretary of State says US may consider easing sanctions on Iran to help fight coronavirus.

Elad Benari ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said that the United States may consider easing sanctions on Iran and other nations to help fight the coronavirus epidemic though he gave no concrete sign it plans to do so, Reuters reports.

The comments reflected a shift in tone by the US State Department, which has come under withering criticism for its hard line toward sanctions relief even in the face of a call by the UN Secretary-General to ease economic penalties.

Speaking to reporters, Pompeo stressed that humanitarian and medical supplies are exempt from sanctions Washington reimposed on Tehran after President Donald Trump withdrew from 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

However, broader US sanctions deter many firms from humanitarian trade with Iran, one of the nations hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic.

Asked if there might come a point at which the United States might reevaluate its stance on easing sanctions, Pompeo replied, “We evaluate all of our policies constantly, so the answer is - would we ever rethink? - Of course.”

Despite the sanctions which block Iran from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets, Washington has offered Iran help in fighting the coronavirus.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week made clear that Iran had no intention of accepting the United States’ offer of humanitarian assistance and added that United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help Iran to contain the virus.

Rouhani’s comments came a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei refused US assistance to fight COVID-19, claiming the virus could be man-made by America.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US sanctions have doubled Iranians' suffering from the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Zarif called for a global "moral will" against the US excessive demands, noting that "complying with sanctions should not lead to more war crimes."