In light of the increasingly dire situation in Iran as the country combats the COVID-19 pandemic, over 40 organizations – including NIAC Action, J Street, Truman National Security Project, MoveOn, Win Without War, and Ploughshares Fund – sent a letter calling on President Trump, Sec. Mnuchin, and Sec. Pompeo to loosen the administration’s crippling sanctions regime on Iran for 120 days in order to aid the Iranian people’s fight against the virus. The combined groups, representing millions of Americans, signals a strong desire for the administration to reevaluate their Iran policy in the wake of the pandemic.
"We are pleased to join with millions of Americans in a plea to the administration to ease sanctions and help relieve the suffering of millions of Iranians from coronavirus pandemic. The moral choice; the national security choice," said Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione.
The text of the letter is below and can be found in PDF form here.
March 20, 2020
Dear President Trump, Sec. Mnuchin and Sec. Pompeo
Containing the deadly COVID-19 pandemic will require a global effort with nations deploying all available resources at their disposal. Iran has become an epicenter for the outbreak, with 1,433 deaths and nearly 20,000 infected. To help stem the continued spread of the virus inside Iran and beyond, we urge you to issue a time-bound suspension of those U.S. sanctions that make it harder for ordinary Iranians to secure basic goods and services to weather the crisis. Doing so would not just serve U.S. interests in helping contain the further spread of the virus, but would also be a powerful humanitarian gesture to the more than 80 million Iranians suffering under the pandemic.
We appreciate that some limited steps have already been taken, including licensing humanitarian trade with the Central Bank of Iran and encouraging foreign banks and governments to establish humanitarian channels with Iran. Yet, sanctions have harmed the public health sector in Iran by slowing or entirely blocking the sale of medicine, respirators, and hygienic supplies needed to mitigate the epidemic, and broad sectoral sanctions continue to negatively impact ordinary Iranians by shuttering civilian-owned businesses and decimating the value of the rial, making it harder to procure food, medicine, and other basic needs.
As a result, we recommend suspending many of the sanctions imposed by your administration since May 2018 for a period of at least 120 days, including those sanctions affecting Iran’s financial and oil sectors and its civilian industries. Doing so would offer significant relief for the Iranian people at a critical time.
COVID-19 is a shared threat, requiring global solutions. Easing sanctions is one simple step that can be taken to serve the interests of the Iranian people and public health across the globe.
American Friends Service Committee
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Charity & Security Network
Churches for Middle East Peace
Church World Service
Council for a Livable World
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress Education Fund
Foreign Policy for America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
International Crisis Group
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Jewish Voice for Peace
Just Foreign Policy
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
National Iranian American Council Action (NIAC Action)
National Lawyers Guild
Open Society Policy Center
Pax Christi USA
Peace Corps Iran Association
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Truman Center for National Policy
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
Veterans For Peace
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
This letter was originally published on niacouncil.org. Introductory copy modified to add a quote from Joe Cirincione.