RNA - Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Zarif welcomed the move by 6 European states to join the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) to improve economic ties with Iran, but meantime, voiced regret that they avoid supplying Iran with medicine needed for EB patients.
EB is a group of rare genetic conditions that result in easy blistering of the skin and mucous membranes. Blisters occur with minor trauma or friction and are painful.
"A Swedish company sold us the medicine and now they do not for the US sanctions and bullying," Zarif said.
He added that Iran does not expect a country which claims to support the nuclear deal to refrain from selling it a rare drug.
"It was necessary to remind them that joining the INSTEX is good but it is better to act upon what the Americans themselves have said, before joining the INSTEX, because they say repeatedly that the medical and humanitarian materials are not sanctioned and they should not embark on such moves," Zarif said.
In relevant remarks last Monday, Zarif called upon European countries not to escape from their human responsibility towards Iranian patients with hollow paper promises, urging the bloc to practically resume the sale of needed medications and pharmaceuticals to his country.
In a Tweet on Monday, Zarif took European countries to task for not fulfilling their promises to counteract the impact of US sanctions against Iran following Washington's withdrawal from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, asking Europeans to at least carry out their “minimal human duty” toward Iranians.
“Instead of arrogant threats or hollow paper promises, E3/EU—and future INSTEX shareholder Sweden—should start with something very simple; a minimal human duty: Ask @molnlyckehc to SELL products enabling Iranian kids with EB to cover their wounds,” Zarif wrote.
In another tweet the same day, Iran's top diplomat referred to recent remarks by his American counterpart, saying that Mike Pompeo “once again admits that US Economic Terrorism on Iran is designed to starve, and in the case of medical supplies, kill our innocent citizens”.
In an interview with BBC Persian in November 2018, the US secretary of state said Iranian officials must listen to Washington “if they want their people to eat”.
Pompeo’s remarks prompted Iran’s mission to the United Nations to call on the UN Security Council to condemn Pompeo’s “irresponsible” and “provocative” remarks while Zarif also reacted by stressing that the Islamic Republic will survive and even advance despite Washington’s sanctions.
The top American diplomat also made similar threats against Iran quite recently when during a discussion he was asked about the latest US sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
Pompeo said, “…President Trump’s strategic effort certainly includes sanctions as an element of our efforts to make the leadership change their ways. But it is only one component, we think that has been an effective component, we think they are having to make very difficult choices about whether to feed their people, to provide medicine for their people or if they want to underwrite the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Last year, President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran.
Washington claims the sanctions target the government, but ordinary Iranians are the ones who suffer the most.
In a joint statement on Friday, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden said they would become new shareholders in a non-dollar trade mechanism with Iran, known as INSTEX.
“In light of the continuous European support for the agreement and the ongoing efforts to implement the economic part of it and to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran, we are now in the process of becoming shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) subject to completion of national procedures,” their statement said.
Britain, France, and Germany (which are known as E3/EU) had announced the establishment of the system in January. The apparatus is meant to circumvent the sanctions that the United States began re-imposing against Iran last year after leaving a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic and the trio, Russia, and China.
Iranian children suffering from epidermolysis bullosa (EB) are the new victims of inhumane US sanctions against Tehran, as Washington’s bans are preventing a Swedish supplier from sending protective bandages to the country, according to an NGO which says American bans have so far killed 15 of these children.
According to Fars News Agency, Hamid Reza Hashemi-Golpayegani, the head of the NGO that helps such patients, said in last month that at least 15 Iranian children with epidermolysis bullosa (EB) have died since the US launched its new sanctions on Iran in August.
That is because Swedish medical companies which provided protective bandages for such patients have halted supplies due to the restrictions, he said.
Often known as butterfly children because their skin is as fragile as the wings of a butterfly, EB patients need special care. Even mild frictions or bumps cause severe blistering of the skin which is very painful.
They often have difficulty with their daily activities, such as walking, eating and even breathing, but without proper protective bandages, their agony would be heartbreaking.
The trade of humanitarian goods, such as food, medicine and medical devices, is on paper allowed by the US, still European companies refuse to do business with Iran, fearing secondary American sanctions.
Since the reimposition of sanctions, Swedish medical products firm Molnlycke Health Care has stopped delivering Mepilex dressings which are trusted around the world to treat a wide range of chronic and acute wounds, including in EB patients, Iranian media reports say.