The United States is pushing back at pressure from the international community and former U.S. government officials to ease sanctions on Iran during the coronavirus pandemic.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran at a press briefing on Tuesday, Newsweek reported — arguing the administration has "done remarkable work to deny the regime the resources they need to continue to carry out their terror campaign." The top U.S. diplomat hoped for a new Iranian government "with a change in outlook."
The briefing conference coincided with the 40-year anniversary of Washington and Tehran severing relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that led to a 444-day hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Iran. The feud escalated in recent years after the U.S. imposed additional sanctions designed to pressure Iran politically.
Critics say the economic implications have hindered Iran's ability to respond to crises such as the coronavirus pandemic, Newsweek reported.
The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 64,000 people in Iran and killed nearly 4,000—among the highest fatality rates in the world. Officials there are demanding an end to sanctions, Newsweek reported.
On Monday, two dozen former U.S. and European officials urged the Trump administration to adopt "targeted sanctions relief" in a statement organized by the European Leadership Network and The Iran Project, Newsweek reported.
"There is no reason at this stage why the sanctions effort should interfere in a malign way with the people of Iran seeking to improve their health and deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is every reason in our view to support these particular approaches,” former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and ambassador to six different nations, Thomas Pickering, told reporters Monday, Newsweek reported.
But the State Department later the same day issued a fact sheet entitled "Iran's Sanctions Relief Scam" warning "Iran's slick foreign influence campaign to obtain sanctions relief is not intended for the relief or health of the Iranian people but to raise funds for its terror operations,” Newsweek reported.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.