Coronavirus: Iran and the US trade blame over sanctions

With Iran one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, a war of words has broken out over the impact of US sanctions.

Iran says they’re hampering its battle with the disease – but the US denies that and says Iran has mishandled the crisis.

We’ve been looking at the claims made by both sides and whether there’s any truth in them.

What are the US sanctions?

In 2018, President Trump pulled the US out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which he said was flawed.

US sanctions were reinstated on the oil industry and other key sectors of the economy and shut Iran out of the US financial system.

The aim was to get Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal but so far it’s refused to do so.

The sanctions have driven Iran’s economy into severe recession, with oil exports largely stopping, major foreign companies pulling out to avoid US penalties and the value of the local currency plummeting.

What is Iran saying about sanctions?

Its leadership says the sanctions make it difficult for Iran to obtain vital medical supplies and equipment to treat Covid-19 patients.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the US of moving from “economic terrorism” to “medical terror” by declining to lift the sanctions after Iran’s outbreak began in mid-February.