TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations said Washington’s move to keep up sanctions against various countries amid the coronavirus pandemic has reached the brink of “crime against humanity.”

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“While the world is grappling with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic and countries are working to boost cooperation and solidarity to help each other in this critical situation, the United States has expanded and intensified its unilateral and illegal action against countries that are largely plagued by the virus,” Majid Takht Ravanchi said at a meeting on the “impact of unilateral coercive measures on global confrontation with the coronavirus” in New York on Tuesday.

“It is the right of all countries to have access to medicines, equipment and supplies needed to prevent the coronavirus spread but the unilateral action by the United States has created a serious obstacle to its realization,” the Iranian ambassador added.

Lashing out at the US’s restrictive measures, Takht Ravanchi said, “Washington has made groundless claims that the sanctions do not include food, medicine and medical equipment but (the fact of the matter is that) depriving a country of access to international trade and the global banking system will curb its entire abilities to access medicine, food and medical equipment through financial and trade mechanisms.”

The Tuesday meeting was initiated by the permanent missions of Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Belarus, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe to the United Nations, Press TV reported.

In March, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the leaders of the G-20 economic powers to roll back international sanction regimes around the world, including the ones against Iran, amid the pandemic.

The novel virus can cause a potentially deadly infection called COVID-19. Since emerging in central China late last year, the virus has claimed more than 382,000 people worldwide, including some 8,000 in Iran.