‘Outright genocidal’: Even as Iran reels from COVID-19 pandemic, Trump to unveil punishing new sanctions

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In a move that could further restrict Iran’s access to humanitarian goods such as food and medicine at a time when the country is being ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration is planning to impose punishing new sanctions on the Iranian financial sector reportedly at the behest of warmongers in the Republican Party, Israeli officials, and hawkish U.S. advocacy organizations.

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The new measures expected to be announced on Thursday despite opposition from European nations “will target the few remaining banks not currently subject to secondary sanctions in a move European governments say is likely to diminish channels Iran uses to import humanitarian goods,” according to the Washington Post.

“[Secretary of State Pompeo] doesn’t stand with Iranians, he stands on their throats as they suffocate.”
—Assal Rad, National Iranian American CouncilMedea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group CodePink, told Common Dreams that by attempting to blacklist the Iranian financial sector, the Trump administration is “kowtowing to Israel and the right-wing Foundation for the Defense of Democracies,” which joined warmongering Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and other Republican lawmakers in lobbying for the fresh sanctions.

“These new sanctions, as well as the brutal ones already in place, only hurt the Iranian citizens and should be considered a crime against humanity,” Benjamin said. “Let’s hope Trump is ousted on November 3 and the Biden administration rejoins the Iran Nuclear Deal before Trump takes us into war with Iran.”

In a tweet late Wednesday, Sina Toossi, senior research analyst with the National Iranian American Council, warned that the Trump administration’s latest push to devastate the Iranian banking sector shows that “the economic warfare against Iran is heightening and becoming outright genocidal.”

“The promoters of these sick policies outrageously claim they care about the Iranian people and democracy,” Toossi added. “They’re the opposite of civilized and have no principles other than brutally forcing their will.”

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According to Bloomberg, the new sanctions would “designate the Iranian financial sector under Executive Order 13902, which President Donald Trump signed in January to clamp down on mining, construction and other industries. That would not only affect banks, but also remittance processors, money-changers, and the informal transfer system used frequently in the Muslim world known as hawala.”

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“Then the administration would blacklist roughly 14 banks in Iran that have so far escaped some U.S. restrictions,” Bloomberg noted.

The sanctions are set to come just days after Iran reported a record 4,151 new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, bringing the nation’s total number of positive cases to more than 479,000. The hardest-hit nation in the Middle East, Iran has reported nearly 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus—a figure that critics said will only be made worse by the Trump administration’s new sanctions.

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“After all the lies that Trump’s sanctions don’t affect the Iranian people, [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo is now deliberately killing the only remaining channels for humanitarian trade,” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

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