US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday hinted that the United States might consider easing sanctions on Iran and other countries amid the coronavirus pandemic, but gave no concrete indication that his country was planning to do so.
The statements reflected a shift in the tone of the US State Department, which has been harshly criticized by governments around the world for its maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
Speaking to reporters, Pompeo stressed that humanitarian and medical supplies were exempt from the sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran after the United States withdrew from the 2015 agreement to limit Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
However, the broader US sanctions deter companies from trading in humanitarian goods with Iran, one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
Asked at a press conference whether at a certain point it is possible for the United States to reassess its position on easing sanctions, Pompeo said: “We are constantly evaluating all our policies. So the answer is, will we rethink? Of course.”
Asked about such a relief on March 20, Pompeo simply said that US sanctions did not apply to medical supplies and other humanitarian goods, and the Trump administration was pursuing a policy of “maximum pressure” in an attempt to force Iran to curb its nuclear and missile programs and the country’s role in the region.
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Hilal Elfer on Tuesday called for the lifting of international sanctions against countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela to ensure food supplies reach hungry populations during the Corona pandemic.
The continued imposition of economic sanctions on Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and, to a lesser extent, Zimbabwe, to name but a few, seriously undermines the basic right of ordinary citizens to adequate and adequate food, she said in a statement.