Iranian Health Minister slams the silence of Western human rights activists over an impending medical supply crisis caused by US sanctions.


Iranian Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh-Hashemi on Tuesday criticized the self-proclaimed ‘human rights advocates’ for their silence toward U.S. sanctions against Iran, which he believes will impede access of Iranian patients to necessary drugs.

“Undoubtedly, the anti-Iran sanctions will harm the elderly and infants while the so-called advocates of human rights are observing and approving them by their silence,” Qazizadeh-Hashemi told reporters.

Back in the pre-JCPOA era, when sanctions crippled their economy, Iran suffered a depletion of chemotherapy drugs and blood-clotting agents: these drugs contained ‘dual-use chemicals’ that could have military capabilities and thus were barred from trade. Autoclaves and other sterilising machines were also labelled ‘dual-use’, meaning that Iran could not manufacture these essential medicines themselves as an alternative. Other non-‘dual-use’ medicines were still scarce, owing to an almost complete Western financial blockade on the country.

Qazizadeh-Hashemi believes this situation will repeat itself again with the reimposition of US sanctions and the accession of risk-averse European banks. Even with specific concessions for medical provisions (currently there are none), Western corporations are still likely to avoid Iran like the plague with the attached unwelcome attention of the US Treasury and additional bureaucratic procedures.

The brigade of US neocons who managed to convince Donald Trump to sever ties with Iran made a point of stressing the humanitarian concerns behind their views. Back in October 2017 John McCain advised the White House to end the deal because ‘Iran’s rampant abuse of human rights within its own borders and around the Middle East is horrific’. Now that he has shaped US-Iranian relations to his liking will McCain forego his own cancer medication in solidarity with the oppressed people of Iran?

The good news is that the US is willing to make concessions on their barricade of 80 million Iranians; the bad news is that, instead of trivial things like medicine and hospital equipment, it will only apply to oil imports. As a result of oil price spikes, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed earlier in the week that he was pondering waiving sanctions for some American purchasers to increase their supply.

You can’t escape the sense that they are just making it up as they go along; however, the only thing that cannot sway the tide of Washington opinion is the livelihood of actual Iranians. As always, the ‘oppressed people’ is a mere abstraction used to achieve narrow American strategic goals in the Middle-East.

The Iranians who inspired McCain’s paper-thin platitudes, be they pregnant women or children with leukaemia, can ultimately live or die without significance to Washington once they have served a specific legislative or executive purpose. And, in this case, that purpose was served in May when a Israeli cohort-stacked Trump cabinet pulled back the only truly righteous detail of Barack Obama’s legacy, and kicked the only lifeboat for a progressive Iranian future back into the sea.

If you care about Iranians, demand an end to the sanctions.


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Ruairi Wood

English Dirtbag. Read the Bread Book, Google Murray Bookchin.