Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif demanded Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump stop halting the sale of Iranian oil as it faces difficulties in supporting its citizens in the midst of the novel coronavirus.
“What we want is for him to STOP preventing Iran from selling oil & other products, buying its needs & making & receiving payments,” Zarif said on Twitter.
He said although Iran in under restrictions, the U.S. was forced to buy ventilators from a Russian company included on the sanction list.
A delivery of ventilators manufactured by a Russian company under U.S. sanctions was transported last week from Moscow to New York to help deal with the pandemic.
“We don’t need charity from Donald Trump,” he said.
Tensions have escalated between the U.S. and Iran since May 2018, when Trump withdrew from a nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.
Trump has since embarked on a campaign to scuttle the agreement, including the reimposition of sanctions on Iranian crude oil that were lifted as part of the agreement.
Zarif previously blamed sanctions for Iran’s inability to obtain medical supplies to combat the virus and accused Washington of “medical terror.”
“This even exceeds what would be permissible on the battlefield,” he tweeted on March 29.
Iran is one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus, with 3,872 deaths and 62,589 positive cases.
Along with China, Russia and a number of countries, it has been vocal about lifting U.S. sanctions at a time when countries are combating the spread of the virus.
U.S.’s failure to ease sanctions against virus-hit countries sparked a debate in the international arena.
On March 24, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for the easing of sanctions against several countries including Iran, to allow health care systems to fight the disease and limit the global spread of COVID-19.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the virus has spread to at least 184 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows more than 1.4 million cases have been reported worldwide with the death toll more than 81,100 and nearly 300,000 recoveries.