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2 Apr, 2019 14:01

‘Economic terrorism’: US blocking humanitarian aid to flood victims, Iran’s Foreign Ministry says

‘Economic terrorism’: US blocking humanitarian aid to flood victims, Iran’s Foreign Ministry says

Sanctions unilaterally imposed by Washington have hindered efforts to provide relief to Iranians affected by a series of deadly floods, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has claimed, describing US posturing as “economic terrorism.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday that the US’ decision to block bank accounts belonging to Iran’s Red Crescent has prevented donations from abroad from reaching Iranians who are in desperate need of aid.

At least 45 people have died in the past two weeks after torrential downpours in Iran resulted in 23 of the country’s 31 provinces being hit by floods. With more flooding expected in Iran’s southwest province of Khuzestan, Tehran’s appeals for international assistance have been hampered by US efforts to cut the country off from the global economy.

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“Since all the accounts of Iran Red Crescent have been frozen [by US sanctions], no one can send their financial aid from overseas,” Ghasemi said on Monday, as cited by Mehr News Agency.

Earlier on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Washington of “impeding aid efforts” as Tehran scrambles to provide relief to communities devastated by the “unprecedented” floods. By depriving Iran of much needed resources and equipment, the US is guilty of “economic terrorism,” Zarif said.

Tehran’s anger over the sanctions is far from unfounded: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) signaled last week that it was prepared to offer help to Iran, but US sanctions could place restrictions on the UN response.

Tehran has ordered the evacuation of 70 villages in Iran’s southwest, amid fears of more flooding to come.

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US President Donald Trump re-imposed sanctions on Tehran after pulling the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which provided sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The unilateral decision has strained Washington’s relations with its transatlantic allies, who invested heavily in Iran’s reintegration into global markets and confirmed that Tehran still played by the rules.

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