Iran has been the hardest-hit West Asian nation by the Covid-19 pandemic. As on Sunday, March 15, it has reported 12,729 cases, along with 611 fatalities. After China and Italy, Iran has reported the largest number of coronavirus cases.

Not only civilians, several prominent Iranian politicians and security forces members have also contracted the deadly disease. Other than corruption, bureaucratization and widespread censorship, international economic sanctions is one of the prominent reasons behind Iran's lax handling of the pandemic.

US-led international sanctions impact on Iranian Covid-19 response

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani. Twitter/Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote a letter to world leaders for global effort to fight Covid-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.

In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Iranian Foreign Minister urged the "world body and member states o disregard inhuman US sanctions on my country. And insist that they be lifted."

"As the Covid-19 ravages Iran, we should recognize that viruses don't discriminate. To fight them, neither should humans," he added. In a desperate attempt, Zarif urged the international community for medicines and other types of equipment. He also accused the US of 'Medical Terrorism'.

Javad Zarif's tweet

Since his election to the White House, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran Nuclear Deal and reimposed widespread economic restrictions. Sanctions have chiefly led to curbs on Iran's oil and gas industry, the chief source for government's revenue.

Iran crisis

As neighbouring nations have shut borders with Iran, its non-oil sectors are expected to be hit, as well. Threat looms on international companies of being black-listed by the Trump administration if they trade with Iran. As Iran lack access to the international banking system, it makes it difficult for companies to process payments for basic items, including humanitarian goods.

Earlier this week, Iran asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $5 billion emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. Since the epidemic spread in Iran, the US had offered assistance to Iran, which was turned down.